Steps by Yolo County supervisors to change the way animal services are run are entering a new stage: city approval.
Supervisors are developing a framework for a new service model, but need Yolo County cities to weigh in.
Davis City Councilman Lucas Frerichs let loose this week one example of a major reason Davis is moving ahead with exploring a joint powers agreement with other Yolo cities and the county for new management at the animal shelter: He tried to adopt a dog in 2006 from the shelter and found it to be a dismal place where the animals didn’t seem to be treated properly.
But much has changed since then, and even more improvements are on the horizon, advocates say. Earlier this week, the City Council vowed to move forward with gathering information about a potential joint powers agreement that would change the way the shelter is run.
Animal welfare activists have long criticized the current animal services division, run by the Sheriff’s Department, saying it euthanizes too many animals. Cities have expressed concern about the costs involved with the way things are being done.
Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza said while conditions at the shelter are now “fantastic,” there are other questions that recent studies have brought up, especially about the efficiency of privatizing the model.
In 2012, a report by the Yolo County Local Agency Formation Commission urged privatization of the animal services program through a joint powers agency, citing better services and lower costs.
The next year, a study by UC Davis’ Koret Shelter Medicine Program took a hard look at programs and staffing levels needed for animal services in Yolo County. They found that while the previous study overestimated short-term cost savings, long-term costs can be cut by finding ways to “reduce animal intake.”
That report recommended more staff and more money spent on trying to spay and neuter animals. It also wanted more weight on volunteer programs and fostering programs.
“I love studies like this because there’s a sense that we can do better,” Krovoza said. “What’s the best way for government to do the best set of requirements.”
The mayor also said Tuesday that Davis’ costs will not decline that significantly, but costs for West Sacramento and Woodland would be substantially reduced.
Other council members urged more public education about the issue owing to criticism that the idea received at the City Council meeting on Tuesday.
Jan Newman questioned what exactly was going on with the change in models.
“I have never heard of an extra layer of government that improved the efficiency of the parties involved,” she said.
Nonetheless, the council directed city staff to keep going down the path to the joint powers agreement.
— Reach Dave Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews