Irvine City Council members approved a $25 million expansion to their animal care shelter with no discussion on Tuesday night after years of delays that would also reduce the total number of kennels available. 

The shelter’s expansion will add a new clinic, renovations for the administration building and allow for sick animals to be separated from healthy ones, a major milestone for the shelter according to the city staff report. 

The upgrades are coming to a facility that sees over 675 people pass through every week to consider adoptions according to the report. 

But while the proposal is set to add nearly 10,000 square feet to the facility, it will also reduce the total number of kennels at the shelter, dropping 30 kennels and leaving just over 100 spots available in the facility’s storage, according to the staff report. 

Volunteers from the shelter who spoke at Tuesday night’s meeting were unanimously supportive of the shelter’s proposed expansions, pointing out the enlarged kennels will make it easier to take in bigger animals who won’t be as cramped in their cages. 

“The staff and volunteers at the Irvine Animal Care Center are committed to seeing the level of service provided to the citizens of Irvine are first rate,” said one volunteer. “The high quality of services provided to the Irvine community and the animals of the shelter will be ensured to continue.” 

The expansion comes as county leaders are coming under fire from a grand jury report that said they’ve failed to properly oversee their animal shelter, as animal rights activists have said it was almost impossible to adopt any animals for years due to the shelter’s appointment only policy. 

[Read: OC Officials Dispute Scathing Grand Jury Report on Increased Kill Rates at Animal Shelter]

There are also plans to expand the Irvine facility’s Operations Support Facility improvements at a later date, but there wasn’t any detail on what that would look like or what it would cost in the city staff report. 

The improvements are a long time coming, with discussions on improving or replacing the animal shelter starting as far back as June 2015. 

The last time the project was publicly discussed was April 2019, when city staff said they hoped to have the proposed expansion completed by 2022 on a budget of $14 million. 

City manager Oliver Chi said the project was delayed due to “the design and outreach process,” in a text Wednesday morning. 

“More recently, as we’ve worked to identify internal structural changes at the City with our new Project Delivery and Sustainability Department, we’ve had a renewed focus on delivery of capital improvements,” Chi said. “We’re looking forward to implementing the enhancements at the animal shelter facility.”

Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at or on Twitter @NBiesiada.


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