City looks for cheaper animal control options

OCEANSIDE — The city presently has a two-year contract with San Diego Humane Society for animal control and sheltering services, but decided to look into other options before the present contract is up in a 4-1 vote on Jan. 5, in which Councilman Jack Feller voted no.
Over the last few years the cost of the contract with San Diego Humane Society has steadily increased while the level of services has been reduced. “I support the idea of having a plan B,” Councilman Gary Felien said. “It makes sense to create that.”
To flush out possible options a special citizen’s ad hoc committee will be formed under the Economic Development Committee to meet for one year and bring recommendations back to City Council.
“The primary focus is to try to find finances to pay for the services,” Doug Eddow, city real estate manager, said.
The ad hoc committee will investigate sharing services with neighboring cities and other low-cost options. Building an animal shelter will not be considered, due to the expense.
There has been some community concern about the San Diego Humane Society’s operational model and business sense. Community watchdogs criticize the San Diego Humane Society for not working collaboratively with local animal rescue groups to better serve shelter animals.
Joshua Helmle said he and four fellow citizens, who work with fundraising, animal control services and animal rescue groups, will be at the ad hoc committee meetings to offer tips on efficient animal control operations. “All five of us have various interests,” Helmle said. “I’m a financial guy not some bleeding heart animal rights guy.”
The goal of the citizen group is to find a permanent solution for city animal control.
“We hope to significantly reduce the cost of the contract for animal control, contain and limit the future rise in the contract costs, provide superior care for the animals acquired, create a true no-kill shelter and re-establish a community relationship that fosters mutual support and appreciation,” Helmle said. “We hope we can come up with a plan and they (the city) seem to be giving us the opportunity.”
City staff will determine guidelines and procedures for the ad hoc committee within 30 days. Meetings will be open to the public.

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