Canine friends will enjoy a cleaner and healthier wait area

Published in the September 27 – October 10, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

The first customer to take advantage of the newly refurbished MHPD kennel. The improvements include a dog house, an attic fan, chew-proof bed frames, a water heater, a utility sink, new food and water bowls, self-warming and self-chilling bed pads, and an upgraded work area for an animal control officer. Photo courtesy Leadership Morgan Hill

Last year, 200 free-roaming dogs were corralled by Morgan Hill police officers and city workers and reunited with nearly three-quarters of their human families. Those unfortunate canines that were not able to find their owners were kept in an impound facility until they were moved to shelters in San Jose and San Martin because Morgan Hill lacks its own animal shelter.

The Leadership Morgan Hill Class of 2017 took on the project of improving the Morgan Hill Police Department’s canine impound facility. Stray dogs stay here for up five days during an attempt to find and notify their owners. The facility is located in an undisclosed place to protect the animals. It had fallen into a state of disrepair. Broken privacy slats studded the surrounding chain-link fence. Six open-sided kennels sat exposed to the elements on a concrete pad under a metal room. Dogs waited miserably in the heat or cold or rain in extreme weather conditions.

“Our project was to make some improvements into the Morgan Hill Police Department’s animal kennel,” said class member John Lang, the city of Morgan Hill’s economic coordinator. The animal kennel has been around for about 20 years, and it’s run by the Morgan Hill Police Department, he added.

The class called their community service project to improve this facility “Pups in Need: MHPD Kennel Makeover.” Students raised $12,000 to provide dog houses, an attic fan, chew-proof bed frames, a water heater, a utility sink, new food and water bowls, self-warming and self-chilling bed pads, and an upgraded work area for an animal control officer.

Within four hours of finishing the facility fix-up, it got its first stray dog visitor.

The 20-member class had considered many other project ideas before deciding on “Pups in Needs.” The project came from two class members who picked up two stray dogs and discovered the circumstances at the impound facility.

Fundraisers included a wine tasting event at downtown’s Bubble’s Wine Bar, a German Shepherd Agility Skills Demonstration presented outside The Coffee Guys café on Third Street, and a special buy-a-brew donation party at The Running Shop and Hops on Depot Street.

Several local businesses provided financial donations including Tencate, South Valley Internet, Morgan Hill Animal Hospital and South County Animal Hospital.

Local student Meghana Kera turned her 15th-year birthday party into a fundraising event with guests providing money to the project instead of presents, raising a total of $500.

The class celebrated the completion of the project with a ribbon cutting and remarks by Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing and Mayor Steve Tate Monday, Sept. 11, at the MHPD headquarters. The event was held there instead of at the impound facility to keep that location undisclosed.

Lang presented a $2,000 check to Swing for use with kennel needs in the future. A plaque will be placed in the police station lobby to commemorate the project and thank the major donors.

At the ceremony, Tate described the partnership between the city and Leadership Morgan Hill over the decades as one that helps train staff as it creates benefit for the community.

“We get a lot out of our partnership with Leadership Morgan Hill because every class does a project and every project makes the city of Morgan Hill a better place,” he said. “Leadership Morgan Hill really helps us do that. Here’s a project that even more directly benefits the city by being in the city itself. We really want to thank the class for doing this project and we want to thank Leadership for enabling the doing of that project, as well.”


The project will make the quality of life better for the estimated 50 dogs who need to be kept temporarily in the impound facility, he said.

Members of the Leadership Morgan Hill Class of 2017 cut the ribbon at the Morgan Hill Police Department for the new MHPD kennel that holds stray dogs for up to five days. The location is kept secret to protect the dogs. Photo by Marty Cheek

“A lot of people in Morgan Hill have pets and it’s very important to them to care for their animals well and have their animals be in a comfortable place. And with the conditions that you see in the (facility) before, maybe it was little marginal whether they were protected properly,” Tate said. “But now with the contribution that you guys have made, we’re really helping out those animals and making them more comfortable. The class did a great job.”

The Leadership Morgan Hill nonprofit organization offers South Valley men and women older than 18 years a nine-month program to learn about the various components of the city and build their leadership skills through a community-benefit project. Organizers are now accepting applications for the class of 2018 which starts in January.

For more information and an application, visit

Marty Cheek

Marty Cheek

Publisher at Morgan Hill Life
Marty Cheek is the publisher of Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy Life. He is also the co-author with Congressman Jerry McNerney of the book Clean Energy Nation: Freeing America From the Tyranny of Fossil Fuels.
Phone: (408) 782-7575
Marty Cheek