As Prince once sang and possibly still does at second-rate venues like Great America and Konocti Harbor Inn, we’re going to “party like it’s 1999.” I’m talking about our staff and volunteers at the Peninsula Humane Society. Our new shelter is about to open and we’re gettin’ down. Maybe not like a rock star or Charlie Sheen (what our folks do on their own time is not my business!), but we’re in a celebratory mood while going about 100 mph and putting in long days. And, the work doesn’t end when we leave at night – ask my wife! Many nights, it’s a flurry of email messages between our staff, the architect and the builder covering the endless month-before-opening details.
Those details would bore you, unless you have a thing for change order requests and punch lists. While taking care of these details, we’ve also taken time to preview our new home to staff and volunteers. For the most part, we’re folks who don’t get too excited about bricks, glass and drywall; we respond to fur and whiskers. The new place doesn’t have a single animal resident yet, but we’re jazzed. We’re still a month away from our official public opening on September 10, but there is definitely enough there for our people to begin realizing the wonderful possibilities and imagine just how much our day-to-day work will change. And, it’s all good.
The 1999 reference is ironic. At the time I was hired in 1998, the shelter’s leadership said the Society’s Board of Directors was seriously looking at buying land and building a new home. Well, it never rained purple. Our board didn’t buy the land and the plans remained just that. Much like the San Francisco Giants’ long World Series drought made last year’s title that much sweeter to longtime fans, the same can be said for our opening.
In many ways, we’re fortunate that the shelter delayed this huge decision. For one, we have much better leadership now. We have people, including our president, who have built new facilities and been involved in the transition process from an aged facility to a new one. Plus, we’ve been able to learn from other animal welfare organizations that have built facilities this past decade. The day after each opened, they realized things they would have done differently. We’re sure we will too, but we have the benefit of being on the back end of the learning curve.
One of our biggest challenges is making sure the public isn’t confused. Despite our best efforts to explain what is moving to this new facility at 1450 Rollins Rd. in Burlingame and what will stay behind at the Airport Boulevard location in San Mateo (Coyote Point) we’ve called home for 60 years, we still have some folks are still fuzzy on the details. Here’s a simple summary.
Our new home will be our adoption headquarters, it will house programs for kids, a kitten nursery, retail store, and our facilities for rehabilitating sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. We will offer many of our public dog training classes in the new facility. Our administration will be there, too. The facility at Coyote Point will remain the facility for incoming stray or unwanted animals and it will be the place people visit if they are looking for a lost pet. Our Spay/Neuter Clinic will remain at this site.
Some staff, programs and work – most notably, our Hope Program work which provides veterinary care and specialized behavior attention for needy animals -- will be present in both facilities, as will volunteers who help with nearly every aspect of our operation.
Still, we know some people will end up in the “wrong” facility and we’re planning for that. For example, we’ve printed cute little cards with puppy dog eyes for people who show up at Coyote Point looking to adopt a pet. We’re giving them a map to the new place with a 10 percent off adoption coupon to make up for the inconvenience, time and gas!
The countdown is on. As another rocker, Tom Petty, sang, “The waiting is the hardest part.” And to rephrase the old adage, time flies when you’re checking off punch lists and moving in furniture. At least, we hope so!