Before making decisions about consolidating animal care services in San Joaquin County, the Board of Supervisors asked its consultant on Tuesday to talk to county labor union representatives and individuals who advocate keeping as many animals alive as possible.
Two consultants from the Stockton-based Animal Protection League gave the Board of Supervisors an overview of their proposal for the seven cities in San Joaquin County, including Lodi, plus unincorporated rural areas to be under the same umbrella when it comes to animal services.
However, Stockton is the only city interested in joining up with the county at this time, consultant Tammie Murrell said during her report Tuesday. Lodi has its own animal shelter operated by the police department along with a nonprofit agency, People Assisting the Lodi Shelter, also known as PALS.
The three supervisors present on Tuesday — Ken Vogel, Larry Ruhstaller and Leroy Ornellas — agreed to postpone any decision about consolidation. Instead, they asked their consultants to discuss issues raised by several speakers and come back to the board in January or February.
Eileen McFall, an animal volunteer in Stockton, told county supervisors she was concerned that the study focuses on euthanizing 70 percent of the animals that come into the Stockton shelter, which also serves unincorporated areas. The county should consider saving lives and not just making money, McFall said.
"I volunteer 40 to 60 hours a week (for the Animal Protection League) trying to save animals," Murrell said after the hearing.
"Nobody enjoys putting to sleep their animals," Board of Supervisors chairman Larry Ruhstaller said. "The problem is we have too many idiots who don't spay and neuter. We can't get to no-kill until we get to low-birth."
Ann Mooney, field representative for Service Employees International Union, which represents 3,900 county employees, said that county animal care services have improved dramatically since the Sheriff's Office assumed operations from the Agricultural Commissioner in May. Animal care employees are a lot happier now, Mooney told the board.
The proposed JPA, at this time, would include only the city of Stockton and unincorporated areas like Lockeford, Clements, Acampo, Woodbridge, Thornton, Terminous and Morada.
One of the proposals is to construct a new $7 million to $8 million shelter to replace the existing one in Stockton.
"We know right now that the facility we have sucks," Ruhstaller said.
Eventual plans also call for a barn for large animals to be constructed adjacent to the new shelter. A location hasn't been determined, Murrell said.
Supervisors Carlos Villapudua and Steve Bestolarides were absent from Tuesday's board meeting.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.