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Riverside County leaders to revisit San Bernardino proposal to take over animal control services

Two weeks after passing on a $2.1 million contract with San Bernardino to take on its animal field, shelter and licensing services for one year, Riverside County supervisors will revisit the proposal Tuesday, May 21.
San Bernardino is expected to save more than $450,000 in the deal .
The Board of Supervisors meets at 9 a.m. at the County Administrative Center, 4080 Lemon St. in Riverside.
On May 7, Riverside County leaders heard from area animal advocates, rescuers and volunteers who have spent the past year imploring San Bernardino to let them take over daily operations at the 50-plus-year-old shelter on Chandler Place.
Among myriad concerns, public speakers suggested that by taking in thousands of San Bernardino animals, Riverside County’s Jurupa Valley shelter would be overwhelmed, assertions officials denied then and deny now.
“We never would have entered into any negotiation with any jurisdiction if we didn’t think we could handle the animals professionally and provide stray pets the care they deserve,” John Welsh, spokesman for the county’s animal services department, said by phone Monday.
“Although the San Bernardino numbers are significant, the impact for us will be very minimal.”
While county supervisors passed on the contract, they did not reject it, leaving open the option to revisit it later.
Still, following the May 7 meeting, certain San Bernardino city leaders and area animal groups hoped to see an item added to last week’s City Council agenda allowing advocates, rescuers and volunteers to submit plans to run the shelter in place of the Police Department .
No such item was included, however.
In a statement ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, the San Bernardino mayor’s office said over the past two weeks, city staffers have worked with Riverside County leaders to address questions they had about the proposal, chiefly, whether San Bernardino County had any interest in providing the city animal control services.
According to the mayor’s office, supervisors were assured the county has no interest in assuming those duties.
“We’ve explained to (Riverside County leaders) the issues with our shelter, the need for a better facility for our animals, our budget constraints and the savings we’re going to get out of the contract,” Bill Essayli, Mayor John Valdivia’s chief of staff, said by phone Monday.

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While Riverside County handles shelter services for San Bernardino County cities such as Colton, Fontana, Grand Terrace and Rialto, the proposal with San Bernardino is unique in that it includes field and licensing services.
Should the contract be approved Tuesday, animals at San Bernardino’s shelter would be transported to the Western Riverside facility on Van Buren Boulevard gradually, Welsh has said.
The San Bernardino shelter would eventually close.

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