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County opens long-awaited pet shelter
Community members enjoyed a preview of the Thomas W. Mayfield Regional Animal Services Facility at a public dedication ceremony held Dec. 15. The Stanislaus County Animal Services Auxiliary held their fundraising event, "Every Life Counts" at the facility later that day to benefit the shelter.

The Thomas W. Mayfield Regional Animal Services Facility is a state-of-the-art facility on Cornucopia Way in Modesto. The facility will open next month and replace the current Stanislaus County Animal Shelter on Finch Road. The new shelter can hold up to 500 animals, where the Finch Road facility can hold between 200 and 300. The new shelter will also have the ability to house a few large animals, including horses. The new facility was a joint effort between Stanislaus County and the cities of Ceres, Hughson, Modesto, Patterson and Waterford. The project cost more than $8.7 million dollars. The ASA held their fundraising event to continue support for the shelter once it opens. The shelter will handle animal intake and adoptions for Stanislaus County. Adoptable animals will be on display in the interactive corridor, which includes viewing and play rooms. Dogs will be housed in pens with an automated washing system to aid in cleaning. All of the water will be held in a settling tank before it enters the sewer system.

"It should get a lot of the debris out so it doesn't add any more burden on the sewer system," said Randy Cavanagh with Stanislaus County Capital Projects, who was guiding tours of the new animal services facility on Wednesday.

Cavanagh said that the building was designed with several separate dog areas, which have sound boards on the ceiling and can be closed off from one another. He said that it should keep down the noise level from the dogs barking.

"When one starts barking, they all bark. The decibel range would be unbearable if they were all together," Cavanagh said.

There are also outdoor exercise yards, where volunteers can walk dogs during the day or let them play off-leash in a safe area. Cats will be housed in special "cat condos" where they can socialize together or be separated. Overall, the new facility will offer more exercise opportunities for the animals to promote better health.

This is the first public animal services facility in California to include a private low-cost spay and neuter clinic. The clinic will be operated separately from the shelter, but it will share a facility. Community members and the shelter can receive low-cost spay and neuter services depending on their need. The goal is to reduce the homeless animal population and prevent new unwanted cats and dogs.

The new shelter will be open sometime in the middle of January.