2017 – A good year for the lost, stray, and injured animals of Newport Beach. For many years we have been proud and grateful for the Newport Beach Police Department’s Animal Control Division. Officers such as Jamie Rogers are remembered for their tender loving care of all the animals that came across their paths. Thankfully, in 1990, after the Huntington Beach oil spill, the Huntington Beach Wildlife Care Center was founded by the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy giving our officers a perfect place to take the injured wild birds and animals.
Domestic animals were not so lucky, as Newport Beach had variously contracted out to other shelters for their care. They might be gone but were not forgotten. Officers such as Valerie Schomburg and Tom Fishbacher believed that Newport should do a better job of caring for dogs, cats, and other domestic animals in need of help and a loving, caring home.
Valerie’s concern was felt by others – namely our then City Manager, Dave Kiff, and Assistant City Manager Carol Jacobs. In 2016 they took the bull by the horns and, with the help of then-Mayor Diane Dixon, received City Council approval and found a shelter to lease in the Santa Ana Heights region of Newport Beach.
There were others in Newport who had for years felt the need for a shelter, just as Valerie had done. Troopers from the citizenry, who had worked for many other causes in Newport, jumped on this chance to form a non-profit Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter so as to work together with the City to care for our animals and find loving homes for all of them. Tim Stoaks stepped up to the plate to be the Friends' first President. Jean Watt, Evelyn Hart, Walt Howald and Nancy Gardner filled in the initial Board and the “Friends” were off and running.
The City obtained a lease for the Shelter on Riverside Drive and the Friends and the City worked out a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for their “public/private” partnership. The next step was to seek a permanent location for the Shelter.
By 2019, FONBAS had increased its Board membership to include Jon Langford, Robyn Grant, Sharon Esterley and Eva Le Bon. We had taken part in a myriad of outreach events. And we had been able to provide funds to the Shelter for some needed equipment and special medical attention or operations that the animals needed. Interest abounded! All that remained was to find and acquire or build a permanent Shelter.
In the fall of 2019, a Membership campaign was launched and a capital campaign began to complete the goal of purchasing a location for a permanent shelter.
On July 31, 2020, the FONBAS Board announced that Phase One of our mission was complete with the purchase of a property and a Founding Membership of over 500. Phase Two, "Raise the Roof" began on August 1st with planning for a new state-of-the-art building.
From July, 2020 to August, 2021, the FONBAS Facilities Committee worked with architects and designers to create a plan for the new facility and obtained all the necessary governmental permits, despite recurring Covid restrictions and unforeseen delays.
All salvageable furnishings, fixtures, appliances, tools, fencing, equipment and assorted personal property onsite were removed and sold, raising over $18,000.
August 5, 2021, brought 2 milestones:
- A contract was approved to hire Slater Builders for construction of the new shelter and
- Capital Campaign Phase Two was launched to raise the final $500,000 to meet our $3 Million goal for construction.
On January 12, 2022, our vision became a reality with the demolition of the existing home and kennels on our new shelter site. Excavators and bulldozers made short work of tearing down the buildings and clearing the lot.
January 20, 2022, The official Groundbreaking Ceremony brought City Council and officials, major donors, Slater Builders, Animal Control staff and volunteers together with the FONBAS Board of Directors to turn the first shovels of soil and mark the start of construction!
July 18, 2022 – A “Topping Out” ceremony was held to celebrate the placement of the highest beam on the new animal shelter. An American flag and City of Newport Beach flag were installed to top off the highest point of the building. Guests signed a board to be placed above the lobby ceiling that will become part of the permanent, albeit hidden, part of the shelter’s history.
Please join our Furry Friends Family – Become a Friend – and - Stay tuned as there is much more coming!