Gimme Shelter, Then Take Me Home

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Agoura Animal Shelter unveils a kaleidoscopic makeover!

Make it as hospitable, inviting and bright, and they will come and adopt.

That could be Los Angeles County’s mantra for the Agoura Animal Shelter, one of seven county shelters to receive a makeover, courtesy of “Portraits of Hope,” a Santa Monica-based non-profit organization founded by brothers Ed and Bernie Massey in 1995.  

They both thought if they could make these environments as hospitable, inviting and bright, it would drive more people to go to shelters and more animals will find a loving home. The Massey’s introduced the facility’s transformation at a ceremony on July 28, during which they thanked the volunteers, donors and county officials who made the project a reality. L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl helped cheer on the effort, being a cat lover herself, and very enthusiastic about the project from the start.

The art was painted by children with special needs who used the work form of creative therapy championed by “Portraits of Hope.” More than 9,000 people volunteered to help and nearly half of them were minors.

Volunteers at the shelter say they have noticed more people visiting the facility since the installation started and the makeover still is not complete.

Animal Control Manager Denise Rosen gave a quick tour of the facility moments before she was off on a horse-packing trip. Rosen, who was born and raised in Malibu and whose parents started the original Malibu Seafood Restaurant, has a soft spot for horses, having grown up with them. Most recently, she had a fly-control system installed in the 10 horse stalls on the property.

The shelter can rescue horses for a shelter fee and a surrender fee, or the shelter can pick them up for approximately $250. Funding for county facilities are always tight so volunteers and equine supplies are constantly needed.  

Rosen, who has been working at this shelter, had worked her way up the ladder from kennel assistant to officer in the field and has been the Control Manager for 10 years. Rosen is very proud of her volunteers and staff and the shelter, which exudes a warm, welcoming family feeling when you first step into the office. The people are so friendly and informative. Most important and not to be missed, is the shelter mascot “Charlie” the tail-wagging greeter.

The kennel itself not only has a beautiful, artful environment, but the stalls themselves have had a major facelift from broken concrete floors to a brand new innovative epoxy. Agoura Animal Shelter was the first to install the epoxy and is still undergoing renovation, while other shelters are following their lead and introducing it into their kennels. The epoxy-paneled walls throughout the cages have made a major sanitary difference. Dog stalls are clean, visually refreshing and the dogs seem happy.  

The Kuranda Beds are all donated. Donors can purchase them online ( under “Donate a bed.”  

The shelter can rescue horses and pick them up if necessary for a shelter fee and a surrender fee of approximately $250. Funding for county facilities are always tight so volunteers and equine supplies are constantly needed.  

All the roofing and ceilings have been replaced, as well as the new parking lot.  Misters are placed in the kennels for hot summer days. The cathouse is air conditioned with a special playground area for them to run around and climb on, as cats do. The meet-and-greet yards are large and spacious with a doggy pool to splash around in. Milkweed is planted throughout the property to attract Monarch butterflies and all the planters have been seeded and upgraded with spaces to sit and relax.

There is also an outdoor educational pavilion where school groups and Girl Scout troops visit, as well as tours and lectures for students to learn about humane treatment of animals, pet care and responsibility, taught by Helen, a retired principal.

A unique funding of medical care is provided for homeless pets at the shelter by Healthcare for Homeless Animals (HHA), formerly Malibu Pet Companions. This care has given animals a second chance for a healthier and brighter future. HHA has helped thousands of shelter pets with uncertain futures to be brought to good health and find their forever home.  

Surgery is only done on adopted animals by veterinarians who visit the facility twice a week.

Shelter Services provide Adoptions; 24-Hour Daily Care ;Lost & Found; Livestock & Wildlife; Dog & Cat Licensing; Micro-Chipping; Return to Nature (Wildlife); Shelter Tours and Humane Education; and 24-Hour Emergency Response.

Donations are always welcome and accepted, which people can leave at the front office.  All donations of unopened pet food, dog and cat treats, foam beds, fleece beds, fleece blankets, towels, crates, collars, leashes and newspapers are shared with other shelters as well.

For more information: (818) 991-0071; The Los Angeles County Animal Care Center is located at 29525 Agoura Road, Agoura, CA 91301.


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