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New animal shelter may open by summers end
Those manning the shovels for the ground breaking for the new animal shelter were, from left, animal control officer Les Rowe, San Joaquin County District Three Supervisor Steve Bestolarides, Manteca City Manager Steve Pinkerton, Mayor Willie Weatherford, contractor Steve Diede, Police Chief Dave Bricker and animal control officer Peggy Miller. - photo by GLENN KAHL
Three animal shelter volunteers, dressed in blue smocks and holding three tiny dogs in their arms made it obviously clear that the staffing of the new, modern facility is going to be set in a foundation of love.

Robin Espinosa, Jackie Jefferson and Jessica Costa along with Mike Espinosa, who stood with a year-old golden Labrador on a leash, didn’t turn a shovel of the ceremonial dirt. They did, however, promise to help bridge the gap in providing care for Manteca’s animal population.

It was a promise that was more golden than the seven shovels used to turn the earth at the corner of South Main Street and Wetmore Avenue at 10:30 Tuesday morning. And, they are looking for others in the community to join their corps.

It’s a passion to want to make a difference for family pets that have been turned out by their owners with them ending up in what has been a small, caged facility with only the love that staffers and volunteers have been able to give them – mostly just petting them and taking them out on walks.

One volunteer at the antiquated shelter on Wetmore Avenue – Linda Good – cut her hours in half at a well-paying job at a print shop several years ago to volunteer at the animal shelter. She slowly worked her way up to a few paid hours and now works for the city 30 hours a week with another 10 or so hours at the print shop.

Good was not at the groundbreaking ceremonies Tuesday morning saying somebody needed to stay behind for the animals and for the owners who might drop by to check on their pets. As it worked out a mother and two small girls did go by – and they located their dog. The mother said they had searched in vain, and it was her four-year-old’s idea to go by the dog pound.

Volunteer Robin Espinosa is in the process of searching out the needed volunteers it will take to man the new 6,000-square-foot animal facility when it opens at the end of the summer. She is looking for those experienced in marketing, technology and others with strong leadership skills that will be put into formational team leaders’ positions.

Applications are available at the city parks and recreation offices that should be filled out and turned in to Lana McBroom who will initiate the screening process.

Espinosa is not the only one in her family who has offered to step up to the plate at the animal shelter. She has a partner in her husband, Mike Espinosa, who serves as a Manteca Police officer in his day job.

She said she was born with a love for animals and now has an Australian Shepherd mix and a Persian cat. As a small girl she always had a dog and a cat at her side, she said. Robin can also be reached at

The other two volunteers on hand for the groundbreaking were Jessica Costa and Jackie Jefferson.

Manteca Public Affairs Officer Rex Osborn welcomed the crowd in the shadow of an earth mover and gave a brief overview of the $2.1 million project that will unfold as part of a larger public works development straddling Wetmore Street.

Police Chief Dave Bricker noted that the facility was long overdue in a community with a need to house over 4,000 animals a year. Bricker pointed out that it is not just dogs and cats that the Manteca Animal Shelter has had to house, but also wild animals that come into the city: coyotes, opossums and raccoons.

He said that the present location is very limited in space to handle the volume that has been put into its wire cages.

The chief further noted that he hopes that the “good frontal exposure” of the new facility being constructed at South Main Street and Wetmore Avenue will make it possible for the city to adopt more of the animals back out into the community.

Mayor Willie Weatherford agreed, saying, “It will be a great improvement as to the care of the animals. They can keep them longer – not having to euthanize as many – in a better presentable position to be adopted.”

The new shelter will have 52 kennels completely enclosed in a separate room to control diseases, reduce noise, and provide better security. There will be separate rooms for cats as well as a lobby with two animal adoption offices and space for staff. Overall, the building is just over 6,000 square feet.

The main building will be constructed using concrete masonry and wood frame. The concrete masonry is primarily around the animal holding areas for sound isolation and ease of wash down. The administration and adoption areas are primarily wood framed. Exterior materials are concrete masonry, metal siding, and cement board siding. All were chosen because they are highly durable and easily maintained.