In their minds: Renovating animal shelters will improve the quality of life for future favorites

Grass Valley Animal Welfare Officer Caralyn Figone contacts one of the half-dozen cats who are now using the new outdoor / indoor “catio” made possible by Rational Animal. The space is made up of a few kennels and has places for perches and cats to sit or explore.
Photo: Elias Funez

It may be difficult for people in Nevada County to find accommodation, but lost or rejected animals restored under the care of Grass Valley-Nevada City Animal Shelter staff have only improved their quality of life.

The shelter – Freeman Lane No. B 556 – currently has five cats and 10 dogs, Caralyn Figone, an animal welfare officer, said.

“It’s easy enough for us,” he said, adding that the shelter cared for 30 dogs and 25-30 cats.

According to Figone, Susan Brandt of Rational Animal has raised $ 7,000 worth of development for the agency. The new signs of the shelter have already brought about a significant change in the awareness and interest of the population.

Grass Valley Animal Shelter kennel technician and office assistant Jessica Patrick keeps one of the adoptable cats on the shelter’s Freeman Lane site where an indoor / outdoor “catio” was built.
Photo: Elias Funez

Brandt, who was at the forefront of the renovation project through fundraising and the Grass Valley Police Department, said he was excitedly waiting for the shelter’s new “catio” outside the new board.

The “catio,” complete with hammocks, scratching posts, and towers, expands the vertical capacity of the shelter, Figone said, giving cats a place to venture and relax in the natural sunshine.

Brandt said he, along with two other volunteers, cut in half the PVC pipe that lined the outdoor walls of the shelter to allow cats to do cat things, and turned the cutting boards into cat-sleeping shelves.

Brandt said the money was also spent on renovating the dog runner, where potential donors still have the opportunity to support the beautification project by paying $ 100 to put a picture of their pet on the wall of the shelter.

Figone said she hopes open-minded and trustworthy volunteers will appreciate working with animals in their new homes. The shelter is largely run by paid staff, but its purpose is to serve and support the community.


Brandt said, long before he first applied to the shelter, he started Rational Animal in 2002 as a charity for endangered animals. He always noticed how hidden the shelter was because it operated next to a water treatment plant.

Susan Brandt of Rational Animal presents some cat hammocks that have been hung on the fence of the new “catio” former kennels. Cats that can be adopted at the animal shelter can now spend their time indoors and outdoors while awaiting adoption.
Photo: Elias Funez

Brandt and his public partners in the project said they are proud of the quality of life offered to shelter animals.

“It smells outside because of the water treatment plant,” Figone said. “Our animals are very well cared for.”

Figone said the shelter only performs anesthesia for behavioral problems and makes full use of the behavioral expert who comes in each week and spends some time with each dog under their supervision.

“We had a chunky pit bull here for 239 days,” Figone said, adding, proudly, that the unlikely pet candidate had recently been adopted.

Figone has worked in the department for the past six years and reports to Grass Valley Police Lieutenant Joe Matteoni. Figone said his department has been operating since 1953.

Lieutenant Grass Valley Police Officer Joe Matteoni from left, Susan Brandt of Rational Animal, and Jessica Patrick and Caralyn Figone of Grass Valley Animal Shelter stand by the animal shelter for a completed “catio” made possible by Rational’s fundraising efforts. Animal.
Photo: Elias Funez

The shelter is a temporary home for rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

“We once had 26 snakes in a vacation home,” Matteoni said.

Kennel technician and office assistant Jessica Patrick said she remembers the shelter was once home to centipedes.

In special cases, the shelter turns to special groups to rehabilitate or care for rarer pets, in many cases wild animals.

Although the shelter operates exclusively within the borders of Grass Valley and Nevada City, Figone said he has already hired 20-30 cats from Sammie’s Friends to help ease the pressure on Animal Control.

One of the many adoptable cats wakes up from last week’s cat crash at a shelter near Freeman Lane.
Photo: Elias Funez

Rebecca O’Neil is from The Union. Available at

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