In the background, the noise of dogs barking mixes with birds chirping as Nancy Alumbaugh stands in front of two acres of land where she hopes a new animal shelter will be built.
The dream of a shelter run by People Assisting the Lodi Shelter, where no animals will be euthanized, has accelerated during this past year. PALS has received a donation of two acres of land at Sycamore Lane Kennels, a $210,000 gift and the donation of building plans from a local architect.
So the nonprofit is now turning to a fundraising campaign to come up with the rest of the $1.5 million needed for the shelter, said Alumbaugh, who is the director of PALS.
A new shelter would improve services to the public, find homes for animals and create more room in the city's shelter, Councilman Larry Hansen said. He also hopes it would encourage more volunteers to help out.
"The cold, hard fact is that at the shelter we have to euthanize pets, and some volunteers can't handle it," Hansen said.
By having a no-kill shelter, he said more people will be able to get involved not only with the animals, but also educating the public about how to take care of pets, including programs geared toward children.
PALS looked at city land for the shelter, but when Riney and Alicia Kahler donated land at Sycamore Lane Kennels, Alumbaugh said PALS knew that would be the perfect location. The two acres was a donation of about $100,000 after adding in the cost of permits.
The kennels are located west of Lodi at the end of the Sargent Road.
"We've been here our whole lives and are animal lovers," Riney Kahler said. "We thought this would be a nice way to give back to the community."
The shelter would focus on adopting out animals and would work closely with the Lodi Animal Shelter, freeing up room for the shelter to accept more animals. Hansen said he imagines families driving down the shaded lane to come pick up a new pet.
The plans for the shelter, donated by local engineer Mike Smith, include housing for 30 dogs and 50 cats. It will have outdoor exercise areas and meet-and-greet areas for potential families to get acquainted with the dogs and cats. It will also have a completely separate quarantine area for sick animals.
The two acres also leave room for the shelter to expand in the future, with dog kennels that could house about 75 dogs.
"Happy Endings" is the name of the fundraising campaign because PALS always wants both animals and pet owners to have happy endings through the adoption process, Alumbaugh said. PALS is hoping to break ground in spring 2011.
"So many years people have been disappointed that a shelter has not been built, but now we are ready for the next step," Alumbaugh said.
PALS received $210,000 from Ann Truppa, who died in December. She had donated dog food every month and visited the animals, but Alumbaugh did not know the donation was coming. Truppa's sister will help select a part of the shelter to be named after the animal lover.
PALS is looking for corporate or services organization grants, donations from individuals, businesses or organizations, bequests and estates, memorials and sponsorships from pet supply companies or any other type of business.
The group has broken up the shelter into various areas that will have bronze plaques for those that want to sponsor an area.
Hansen said he hopes people are not intimidated by the large price tag, and has confidence that the community will support a new shelter. When he ran for council in 2002, he walked every precinct and was surprised by how many dogs he heard barking when he knocked on doors.
"We know there are people out there who shake their heads and don't get it. They haven't felt it," Hansen said. "But we know there are people out there who do have a passion for animals."
Want to donate?
If you have questions about donating, volunteering to help with fundraising or sponsoring a part of a shelter, contact Nancy Alumbaugh at 327-0902.
You can also send any donations to: People Assisting the Lodi Shelter, 2414 W. Kettleman Lane, Suite 210-2207, Lodi, CA 95242.