City leaders approved a $25 million expansion project for the Irvine Animal Care Center on Tuesday, Aug. 8, which will bring new facilities and site improvements to the center’s main campus located on Oak Canyon. With an estimated minimum of 650 visitors per week, volunteers are welcoming the expansion project, which will be the facility’s first upgrade in more than 40 years.   

The project will include the construction of a new 5,000 square foot entry building that will feature a lobby and retail space, and a new 3,800 square foot clinical building, which will house a surgery room, along with examination and recovery rooms. 

Other aspects of the expansion project will include adding a patio to the existing feline and small animal building, the creation of an open office workspace for the center’s volunteers and employees, and the expansion of the existing kennel spaces. The capital improvement project will also add an area that will help isolate sick animals from the general population. 

The $25 million expansion project will also bring renovations to Irvine’s Operations Support Facility, which is located directly across from the Irvine Animal Care Center. While the OSF is mainly used for storage, the project will add a new fueling island in the area of Irvine Central Bark, the center’s dog park. 

Staff reports indicate the dog park will be relocated to Oak Creek Community Park, which is currently undergoing an expansion. A proposed new dog path trail along the site’s western edge will connect to the existing Walnut Trail for access.  

More than a dozen community members, many of them IACC volunteers, submitted e-comments in support of the expansion project. 

Dan Ferrari, who has lived in Irvine for more than 40 years and been an IACC volunteer for more than a decade, said air conditioning will be a welcome upgrade to the aging facilities. 

“I am so excited over the progress of the project. The addition of a modern clinic, air conditioning in the dog buildings, and a welcoming entrance for the public are things to be proud of. The renovation of the kennels is badly needed, as is the addition of a proper indoor classroom space, out of the weather and away from the street noise, where staff and volunteers can come together for training, events, and to provide community education,” Ferrari wrote. “I appreciate the design effort to keep the grass and trees, and retain the Center’s park-like environment.” 

However, while the project’s anticipated renovations come with a hefty price tag, the final product will result in an overall reduction of kennels at the site, according to the project’s staff report.  

Per the project’s initial study, while kennels will be expanded in size, the expansion will remove 30 kennels from the site. Construction is set to begin this fall, with completion of the project expected by winter 2026. 

The Irvine Animal Care Center expansion project has been on the radar of leaders in Irvine for years. In April 2019, members of the Irvine City Council unanimously voted to approve the project’s final design and directed city staff to initiate requests for proposals regarding environmental review.  

When Irvine leaders approved the project’s final design in 2019, Mike Cribbin, Manager of Community Services, explained that the city hoped to expand on the center’s best operation aspects, based on staff’s recommendations. 

“What this proposal is doing with staff’s recommendation is taking the best of what exist at the facility, keeping it, renovating it — whether it be minor or major — then adding new space for additional capabilities,” he said. “The current center was designed probably in the range of 40 years ago – animal veterinary medicine and animal husbandry were in a different place 40 years ago.” 

In April 2019, then-Mayor Christina Shea, referenced long delays in the project prior to approving the project’s final design.   

“We’ve been talking about this for three or four years. It looks like we’re finally moving in the right direction,” Shea said. “It has been a major disappointment, not only to myself but to this community that it has taken so many years, and so many iterations to get this moving forward.”

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