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San Bernardino to outsource animal control services to Riverside County

Nine months after voting down a proposal to close the San Bernardino Animal Shelter and outsource animal control services to Riverside County, city leaders voted Wednesday, March 20, to initiate the move.
Councilmembers Sandra Ibarra and Henry Nickel dissented.
Just last month, San Bernardino policy makers took the first step in relieving the Police Department of daily operations at the beleaguered Chandler Place shelter by allowing area rescue organizations, nonprofit and volunteer groups to submit proposals to run the facility.
The council opted Wednesday to pursue a contract with Riverside County for animal control services instead, a decision at least one animal advocate called surprising and unexpected. Now, rather than solicit plans from outside groups to run the shelter, the city will solicit plans to run a local adoption center.
Either way, the city animal shelter will close, though not immediately.
UCR student Lydia Ignacz looks up at the adoption information card for a male red and white collie rough mix during “Free Adoption Day” at the San Bernardino Animal Shelter in San Bernardino on Thursday, March 21, 2019. The city has decided to outsource its animal services to Riverside County rather than put out a request for proposals to nonprofits and rescue organizations. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
People wait in line during “Free Adoption Day” at the San Bernardino Animal Shelter in San Bernardino on Thursday, March 21, 2019. The city has decided to outsource its animal services to Riverside County rather than put out a request for proposals to nonprofits and rescue organizations. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
Sound The gallery will resume in seconds A dog’s paw is seen during “Free Adoption Day” at the San Bernardino Animal Shelter in San Bernardino on Thursday, March 21, 2019. The city has decided to outsource its animal services to Riverside County rather than put out a request for proposals to nonprofits and rescue organizations. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
One of the cats has an “I’ve been adopted” sign posted on its cage during “Free Adoption Day” at the San Bernardino Animal Shelter in San Bernardino on Thursday, March 21, 2019. The city has decided to outsource its animal services to Riverside County rather than put out a request for proposals to nonprofits and rescue organizations. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
People wait in line during “Free Adoption Day” at the San Bernardino Animal Shelter in San Bernardino on Thursday, March 21, 2019. The city has decided to outsource its animal services to Riverside County rather than put out a request for proposals to nonprofits and rescue organizations. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
A female black and white lab mix howls during “Free Adoption Day” at the San Bernardino Animal Shelter in San Bernardino on Thursday, March 21, 2019. The city has decided to outsource its animal services to Riverside County rather than put out a request for proposals to nonprofits and rescue organizations. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
People wait in line during “Free Adoption Day” at the San Bernardino Animal Shelter in San Bernardino on Thursday, March 21, 2019. The city has decided to outsource its animal services to Riverside County rather than put out a request for proposals to nonprofits and rescue organizations. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
A female husky looks out at the line of people waiting to adopt animals on “Free Adoption Day” at the San Bernardino Animal Shelter in San Bernardino on Thursday, March 21, 2019. The city has decided to outsource its animal services to Riverside County rather than put out a request for proposals to nonprofits and rescue organizations. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
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“This is the best of both worlds for the animals and for our financial difficulties,” Councilman Fred Shorett said ahead of the vote. “We contract with (Riverside County), they take a bigger piece of the pie, but still service our local citizens.”
Animal advocate Alice Chow said Thursday the city needs a shelter, not an adoption center.
“It needs a shelter that can take in stray animals, owner-surrenders and provide medical care for dogs and cats in need,” she said. “As far as adoption centers, currently we have PetSmart, Petco and other businesses that have rescues come in and do their adoption centers on weekends.
“The need of the city is a shelter.”
When city officials first brought the cost-cutting move before the council last year, they said Riverside County’s robust network of resources would give strays from San Bernardino the best chance to find permanent homes.
Additionally, staffers said, outsourcing would provide animals better care at a state-of-the-art facility in Western Riverside, and help San Bernardino remain fiscally solvent by saving more than $530,000 a year.
In response, area animal advocates said shuttering the shelter, which is run by the Police Department, would flood city streets with stray animals and contribute to increases in pet abandonment and euthanasia rates.
Amid the public outcry, city leaders voted to keep the shelter open for at least one year while volunteers, rescuers and animal advocates pursued private funds for needed repairs.
In the months since, however, sweeping and sudden changes made by new management at the shelter have concerned area rescuers, volunteers and animal advocates. Late last year, hundreds of protesters called for the humane treatment of animals and those eager to help them .
The terms of a prospective contract with Riverside County remain unclear, as does a timeline for when an agreement will come before city leaders.
“This is not the perfect-world scenario,” police Capt. David Green told the council Wednesday, “but given the constraints we’re facing, we feel it’s the most practical at this time.”
The San Bernardino Animal Shelter, at 333 Chandler Place, is more than 50 years old and in dire need of repairs.
City staff has pegged the cost of building a new facility at $18 million, though a formal bid has not been solicited.
The city currently has $642,000 earmarked for animal-related needs.


Related links

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San Bernardino may turn operations of beleaguered animal shelter over to nonprofits, volunteers
San Bernardino animal shelter manager no longer working for city, public records show
Protesters speak out against new management of San Bernardino Animal Shelter
Amid public outcry, San Bernardino Animal Shelter to remain open



“We want to keep the shelter in the city,” said Ibarra, who championed last month’s decision to solicit bids from outside groups. “But we’re being pushed to outsource to Riverside (County), when we saw something beautiful happen at the (volunteer-run) Upland shelter, something we can do in our city. That’s not what we’re doing here.”
Thursday morning, scores of people lined up outside the San Bernardino Animal Shelter for a scheduled free pet adoption event.
Several people, including some shelter staffers, were unaware the city had voted to outsource.
“What I’m hearing from San Bernardino residents is that they had put their trust in their council members and their mayor, and they feel they have been misled and lied to,” said Chow, founder of the San Bernardino Animal Care Foundation. “They’re saying the vote (Wednesday) did not reflect what they wanted and told their representatives.
“As for my group, we’ll continue to try and help animals in San Bernardino, but at this point, it’s up to the residents to fight for what they want.”

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