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Valley Humane Society to break ground for new digs

Facility will triple number of animal lives saved each year

The Valley Humane Society is holding a groundbreaking and ribbon cutting for the public at its site on Nevada Street at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 9, although work is already under way on the new 5,000-square-foot animal shelter.

"We purchased the Nevada Street property in 2001," said board president Lori Rice. At that time the cat rescue organization was leasing property on Spring Street in downtown Pleasanton.

In 2006, the group moved into a 1,700-square-foot modular unit on the property, at 3670 Nevada St.

"We were able to house a lot more cats, and there was room for offices and room to spread out," said Rice.

The board of directors studied animal shelters in the Tri-Valley to decide what its mission should be, Rice explained, to complement the Tri-Valley Animal Rescue, the SPCA and East County Animal Shelter. It decided to focus on education and activities to help animals stay in their homes, said Rice, in addition to its shelter and adoption services.

Valley Humane Society programs -- and its new facility -- have been made possible by the bequest of $1.4 million from the late Joyce Keeler, a former school teacher in Livermore, Rice said.

"We do a lot of work with education programs," she noted. "We do Keeler's Kids in all the second-grade classes in Pleasanton. A volunteer goes in and teaches about what it takes to adopt an animal."

At the end of the lesson, children who prove they understand the responsibilities of pet ownership are allowed to adopt a small stuffed dog or cat.

Valley Humane Society also works with Tri-Valley Haven and Open Heart Kitchen.

"When they give out food, we give out pet food," Rice said. "Those are ways that save animals from being given up."

She said they hope to provide more services in the new facility, including a place for people to bring pets with problems, such as barking dogs or spraying cats. She also wants to offer help with pet bereavement.

Rice hopes the new facility will open in the late spring.

"That's why we need to do a big push for the rest of the money we need to finish," she said. "We need to raise about $750,000 more."

The next fundraiser is the Great Catsby Casino Night on Sept. 11 at the home of Becky and Murray Dennis, 838 Gray Fox Circle in Pleasanton. Tickets are $65 and include a catered buffet dinner, two drink tickets, valet parking and gambling chips for casino games. For information, go to www.valleyhumane.org, or call 426-8656.

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