Lodi and four other cities are exploring the idea of establishing a jointly operated animal services agency with San Joaquin County to pool money and resources.
Neither the county nor the cities of Lodi, Stockton, Lathrop, Tracy and Manteca have decided whether a joint-powers agency is a good idea. That decision won't come until at least June.
However, retired Stockton Deputy Police Chief Tammie Murrell has been hired to survey the county and five participating cities on a possible JPA. Other options include having the county or one of the cities operate animal services or hire a nonprofit private contractor to run the JPA.
The cities of Escalon and Ripon are not participating because officials there believe animal services are well-run, according to County Administrator Manuel Lopez.
The shelters in the five other cities are way over capacity, Murrell told the Board of Supervisors. The county and five participating cities combined took in 11,618 cats and 10,062 dogs during the 2009-10 fiscal year. The shelters euthanized 8,917 of the cats they took in and 4,594 of the dogs, Murrell said.
However, the city of Lodi euthanizes fewer animals than other communities in the county, according to Lodi police Lt. Steve Carillo, who supervises the city animal shelter.
Carillo and interim shelter supervisor Jennifer Bender represent the city in meetings with the county and cities about the animal services proposal.
"We haven't committed to anything," Carillo said.
All the cities and the county have done is exchange information. Carillo said he doesn't know if a JPA would benefit Lodi at all.
Neither do the other agencies. That won't happen until at least June of next year, Murrell said.
Meanwhile, Murrell has talked to representatives from Marin and Santa Cruz counties, who have JPAs with their cities, and a coalition of 13 cities in southeastern Los Angeles County, about how their animal operations are working.
San Joaquin County and its cities spend more general fund money on animal care than the three JPAs that Murrell surveyed, she told the Board of Supervisors.
"We need to something to help the population," Tracy Supervisor Leroy Ornellas said. "It breaks my heart to see these animals put away."
But something must be done about animal care and overpopulation, Murrell and the Board of Supervisors agreed.
"The way we're doing it is not working," Supervisor Larry Ruhstaller said. "There are a male and female cat getting to know each other right now, so it's not going away."
Supervisor Ken Vogel, who represents Lodi and eastern San Joaquin County from Acampo to Escalon, asked Murrell if she has studied the cow, horse and feral chicken population in his district.
Murrell said it's hard to get solid numbers on the number of rural animals, so she's focusing more on cats and dogs.
Since the future of animal services won't be determined for several months, the Board of Supervisors agreed to not terminate the position of county animal control manager for unincorporated areas. Lopez had recommended that the position be eliminated, effective Jan. 3, but supervisors saved the position at least through June 30.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.