New Shelter Campaign

Irrepressible Spirit, Unleashed Possibilities

They call us The Little Shelter That Could — a humble enterprise that, like the little engine of children’s book fame, chugs along with irrepressible spirit.

Like that little engine, we have a dream: to build our own forever home — a modern-day safe harbor for the animals of Santa Cruz. The new shelter we envision will be modern, inclusive, and inspiring — a place for fresh ideas, fresh starts, and unleashed possibilities. And you can help us build it!

If you’ve ever visited our current Chanticleer Avenue facility, you understand that every aspect of operation takes place within a crowded 1,200-square-foot facility that was clearly never meant to be an animal shelter.  It’s got the “home-like” setting that is very therapeutic for the animals but with severe space constraints and an aging structure, we simply cannot grow our lifesaving work and achieve our mission at the level in which our community deserves. Our outdated, rented facility can no longer be cost-effectively repaired. It must be replaced. Although we take pride in providing every animal with excellent care, current best practices in shelter management just aren’t possible in a building as old as ours.


Current challenges in our existing facility: 

  • Ventilation and climate control are inadequate. To reduce stress and control infection, we must keep our animal census low, which means we are unable to save more lives. And we simply have no room for larger dogs.
  • Cats in our care lack optimal space for housing and socialization, which means we must limit our cat intake — in an era when cats need the most help!
  • Adoptions and surrenders collide in one small reception area, with very little privacy. And with no dedicated area for medical care, we’re constantly repurposing space for recuperating animals.
  • The shelter experience for visitors, staff, and volunteers is less than ideal, with inadequate work, meeting, and storage space, and limited parking.
  • Last but not least, we have no community space to support humane education — our signature program and the key to our vision for addressing animal homelessness before it starts.

Learn about why Santa Cruz needs two shelters!

The Santa Cruz area is currently served by two shelters with different scopes, different funding, and different capabilities, working in partnership to address the shared challenges of animal welfare in our community. This model of a public and private shelter working collaboratively to help homeless animals is working superbly well and effecting great change in many jurisdictions throughout California and across the country.

The Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter (SCCAS) is a publicly funded, full-service shelter that handles all aspects of animal care and control for Santa Cruz County. This includes animal rescue and control, licensing and regulation, basic veterinary care, and adoption services, with responsibility for protecting the health, public safety, and welfare of people and animals in the County.

Because the county shelter is supported by municipal funds, it is by definition an “open-admission” (or “open door”) shelter, bound by its public mission to take in all animals in need, regardless of age, health, or behavioral issues. As demand for space is high, the SCCAS works with its rescue partners to transfer animals when there is an overflow situation, or when animals with issues need more resources than can be allocated.

That’s where the Santa Cruz SPCA comes in: Dedicated to providing a safe harbor for animals in need — including dogs and cats that require extended shelter, care, or training — the Santa Cruz SPCA partners with the county to rescue more animals in our community and nurture them until they are ready for their forever homes. We never say “no” to dogs and cats from our county shelter (the only exception being larger dogs, which our current small facility cannot adequately house).

As a privately funded shelter — which relies on the generosity of our community donors — we have the flexibility to keep our animals as long as they need to find their forever homes, and to provide the medical care, enrichment, training, and socialization to help them become confident, healthy, loving companions.

Enabling the county to turn over spaces to more animals in need, taking in challenged dogs and cats from the county shelter and nurturing them to increase their chances of adoption, never giving up on an animal in our care — that’s how the Santa Cruz SPCA collaborates with the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter to address animal homelessness. In our community, it’s a challenge that takes two dedicated enterprises, working in partnership.

Our Future Shelter at a Glance 

The forever home we are building will be nearly six times the size of our current shelter facility, with features that support animal rescue best practices and room to save more animals, engage more people, and unleash more possibilities.

Shelter Details and Features

LOCATION: 2601 Chanticleer Ave., Santa Cruz



FUNDRAISING GOAL: $7.2 million

• Modern ventilation and climate control systems
• Sustainable, cleanable surfaces
• 3,500 square feet of animal habitats
• Indoor and outdoor dog exercise areas
• Enclosed “catios” and group cat room
• 750 square feet of multipurpose gathering space for humane education and community events
• Multipurpose areas for animal assessment and training
• Dedicated dog and cat get-acquainted rooms
• Dedicated isolation rooms for animal care and recovery
• Separate spaces for adoption and intake/surrender
• Multipurpose area for on-site medical treatments, grooming, and storage
• 700 square feet for administrative use
• Staff/volunteer break room
• Sustainable, largely native landscaping
• On-site parking for 13 vehicles

Modern Dog and Cat Habitats 

Because we are building our future forever home from scratch, we’ll be able to create dog and cat habitats that support modern best practices in animal rescue. Spacious yet cozy dwelling spaces, places for cats to climb, yards that give dogs room to run and play, proper ventilation, cleanable surfaces, easy viewing for visitors — all are part of our strategy to keep the animals in our care healthy, happy, and ready for their own forever homes.

“We’ve been big fans of the Santa Cruz SPCA for going on two decades, and we won’t know of another nonprofit that is more resourceful and capable. For years, the SCSPCA team has held to its mission in a makeshift facility against a rising tide of demands. When we learned a more suitable home was in the plans, adding capacity for rescues and community engagement, we knew we wanted to be part of it. As proud caretakers of two adopted cats, we are reminded daily of the importance of SCSPCA’s mission, to both the animals and the humans of Santa Cruz.”

— Jill and Dan Dion, SCSPCA campaign supporters

“I have seen SCSPCA’s dedicated staff do so much for Santa Cruz with modest resources and a tiny building that can accommodate only a limited number of cats and small- to medium-sized dogs. In addition to rescue and adoptions, they have many amazing programs, from human education and food banks to veterinary assistance and disaster relief services. This big-hearted institution deserves a facility where it can achieve its full potential as a place that saves animal lives, teaches children and adults about compassion and care for pets, and brings people together around a love for animals.”

— Diana Magor, SCSPCA campaign supporter

“We got to know the Santa Cruz SPCA as volunteers after we lost our cat. We were so impressed by the great work done in a less-than-ideal environment. We were very excited to hear that a new facility was in the works, and we donated a portion of an inheritance to the project. Now that a new team is making this dream a reality, we look forward to increasing our financial commitment. Bravo to everyone at SCSPCA for their leadership and dedication!

— Linda and Bob Powers, SCSPCA campaign supporters

If you are inspired by what you see and would like to learn more about the campaign, we would love to speak to you! Contact us at or by calling (831) 465-5000 ext. 19.

We are also leading tours of our current facility and hard hat tours of our construction site, please contact us to set up a tour!

Watch the progress of our new home as it’s being built. We’ll be updating this regularly, so check back in.

 The beginnings of something great. We’re just about to break ground.
The area is smoothed out and ready for the foundation work to begin.
The foundation has been laid!
The outside of the building is starting to take shape.
The front entrance is looking more recognizable.
One of the new outdoor dog play areas
An inside look of the walls going up
The exterior surfaces are going up!
Who would have thought that seeing drywall could be so exciting??
The interior is taking shape!



Campaign Goal: $7.2


We are closer to the realization of our new shelter than ever before. It is the animals and the community members who will truly benefit the most from the completion of this project — so we are working hard to close the funding gap that remains. We need your help! If you’d like to be involved, please contact us at or 831-465-5000 x 19


 Shelter Location

2685 Chanticleer Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA 95065
(P) 831-465-5000
(F) 831-479-8530

Hours of Operation

Tues - Sun: 11am to 6pm

The Santa Cruz SPCA is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of animals. We receive no government funding, and depend solely on financial support from our friends. Our organization is not affiliated with any other SPCA or Humane Society.

Tax ID: 94-6171565

© 2017 Santa Cruz SPCA