Shelter Contract is History!
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t's Official! The County's Out!

City to Run It's Own No-Kill Services

                                            May 18, 2005

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The Rancho Cucamonga City Council made it official: the shelter and animal control contracts with the County will be terminated on January 31, 2006. The City will run its own no-kill animal services.

This was a foregone conclusion ever since the May 4th council meeting where every member agreed that the County had failed to provide adequate services and violated their mandate to hold impounded animals a minimum of 30 days.  It was then the May 18th vote was scheduled.

The Council also approved extending the consultation contract with no-kill consultant, Nathan Winograd.  He will now not only show the City how to convert to a no-kill shelter, he will also help with the switch to a new administration and write the policies and procedures. His charges will increase from $12,600 plus expenses (up to $2,000) to  $19,000 plus expenses (up to $2,000).

Analyst, Michelle Dawson, offered three ways the City could make the  administration transition: a) The council can hire a new shelter director and then add employees and equipment in phases; b) the existing County staff could be retained, a new director could be hired and equipment could be purchased from the County or c) a temporary consultant could be hired until the replacement staff was trained and in place. No decision was made but discussions showed the preference was to clean the slate and bring in all-new staff.

Dawson also mentioned the aspects of transition that must be addressed:

bulletDesired levels of service
bulletJob descriptions
bulletVet care
bulletProtocols, policies procedures

Programs & services

bullet24/7 Dispatch
bulletStaffing levels
bulletInsurance coverage
bulletLicense checks
bulletEquipment vehicles
bulletCity ordinances
bulletRevenue negotiations 
bulletPositions needed
bulletBudget restructuring

Both Dawson and City Manager, Jack Lam, said that the cost of the transition could not be determined until Winograd defines the scope of services. Lam said the budget will likely increase because the public wants an enhanced program.  The current contract calls for paying the County $62,700 per year for animal control and $305,600 a year for shelter services.  The County gets an additional $400,000 annually for license and other fee revenue. Actual figures vary year to year and are often more.

Dawson was instrumental in bringing about what many consider the most important shelter reform of all: the cancellation of the County's administration contract. The Council undertook this extreme measure only after she presented results of her shelter investigation and recommendations. Dawson will be leaving her post next week for another position elsewhere.

Councilman Rex Gutierrez expressed concern that expenses were unknown and suggested that volunteers start fundraising to supplement taxpayer costs.

Mayor, Bill Alexander, pushed for a 'sooner than later' transition. He expressed disappointment that the County had 'copped an attitude' ever since its performance was under review. He was angered by the  treatment of animals, violations of "The Hayden Law" and recent reports of abuse towards rescuers and activists.

"I am finding it increasingly difficult to deal with anyone at the shelter" said Vikki Shore, director of No Kill NOW!. I got the ice treatment today. When I asked why a friendly white cat was in quarantine, I was told that I could not longer receive any information directly. I'd have to deal with someone at the City because 'everything that the activists say about us are lies.'

"During a 3-hour visit I heard staff members claim that 4 animals were aggressive. All seemed very friendly to me. 

And yesterday, I saw a volunteer and a staff member talk a woman out of adopting two plain-looking, adult cats. I heard them say one cat wasn't nice and the cats weren't "right" for her daughter. They recommended a kitten instead. She left without adopting. 1

"When it affects the animals, that's when we all need to speak up.  This is costing lives. And this conduct hurts taxpayers too.  We're not getting the services we're paying for."

Diane Williams, Mayor pro tem, said that she wants to see protocols established as to what the City's expectations are, especially in the area of customer service. Dennis Michael said he supports the transition and wants to make sure that it is done appropriately so that the public expectations are met. Sam Spagnolo made a motion to accept the no-kill consultant's proposals.

Shore said, "This vote didn't expressly state the city-run shelter will be 'no-kill' but every council member has stated that's what they want and you don't hire a no-kill expert to write policies, procedures and job descriptions for a new administration unless that's the direction you are taking.

"The victory of our petition, Citizens for No-Kill Shelter Reform is complete thanks to the superb leadership of our City Council!

"Now the real work starts- attaining a no-kill shelter.  This may come to be the City's greatest challenge and its finest achievement.

"I hope the remaining Inland Empire cities contracting with San Bernardino for animal services listen-up and take similar action. Their problems are far worse than ours and their 'kill-rates' are disgraceful."

1  Shore took her phone number and spoke with her that evening and the next day.  The woman ended up adopting three adult cats - two were the ones the staff tried to talk her out of. She told Shore she "didn't want a  Super-Cop telling" her what she should or shouldn't do.

No-Kill NOW!  P.O. Box 217,  Etiwanda, CA 91739-0217
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