ANIMAL HEALTH AND REGULATION

Part I released January, 27, 2000

Part II released May 22, 2000

 

The Grand Jury Animal Health and Regulation Report consists of two sections. Part I concerns the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the County and Dog Adoption and Welfare Group (DAWG), a volunteer organization. Part II concerns the North County Shelter Operations.

On April 10, 2000, the Animal Health and Regulation (AH & R) division of the Public Health Department (PHD) was renamed Animal Services.

INTRODUCTION Part I

With an impending vote by the Board of Supervisors (BOS) on the continuance of an MOU between the County of Santa Barbara and DAWG, the Grand Jury felt compelled to issue an interim report in advance of the final report on Animal Health and Regulation.

 

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Grand Jury Finding 1: The MOU with DAWG conveys critical County responsibilities to a volunteer organization.

PHD Response to Finding 1: Agree. The MOU conferred rights of kennel management and adoption decisions to a volunteer organization. These responsibilities should be vested in staff. The 72 page MOU document was complex and difficult to interpret and enforce. Some County policies may have been superseded by the adoption of the MOU.

BOS Response to Finding 1: The Board adopted the Public Health Departmentís response as its response (Agrees).

Grand Jury Recommendation 1: The BOS should not continue this contract with DAWG or enter into any agreement with a volunteer group that undermines the authority of County staff.

PHD Response to Recommendation 1: Recommendation has been implemented.

The BOS has terminated the MOU with the DAWG organization effective March 18, 2000. The negotiations between the County and the DAWG organization also resulted in consensus to continue the current Bunnies Urgently Needing Shelter (BUNS) MOU for the current term (until February 18, 2001). Staff and the BUNS organization are working to develop a mutually agreeable Resolution prior to February 18, 2001.

BOS Response to Recommendation 1: The Board adopted the Public Health Departmentís response as its response (Recommendation has been implemented).

Grand Jury Finding 2: There is an absence of current written policy for AH&R. The Departmentís policy and procedures manual is outdated and may have areas of omission. The AH & R staff has developed a plan to review and revise the manual as a staff process, with input from the volunteers, who are active in day-to-day operations. The target date for the first review after staff has made recommendations is June 1, 2000. The projected date for implementation of the revised policy and procedures manual is July 1, 2000.

PHD Response to Finding 2: Partially disagree. The department has an existing policy manual and a draft volunteer manual that has been in development since November of 1999. Staff and the existing volunteer groups have been solicited for input on the new Volunteer Manual, along with the Countyís Risk Management Department, and it is close to finalization. The expected date of finalization of the Volunteer Manual is March 31, 2000.

BOS Response to Finding 2: The Board adopted the Public Health Departmentís response as its response (partially disagrees with the finding).

Grand Jury Recommendation 2: A new policy manual for Animal Health & Regulation should be created that specifically outlines procedures and responsibilities in order to assure the health and safety of volunteers, employees and animals.

PHD Response to Recommendation 2: Recommendation is in the process of being implemented. As noted previously, the Department is in the process of revising and expanding the policy and procedures manual. A new animal control specific computer system has been purchased and is slated for implementation in April of 2000. A completely new set of procedures will need to be developed to complement the new computer system. Additionally, the termination of the DAWG MOU allows for the revision of procedures and implementation of procedures that will be consistent at all three shelters in the County. Input from volunteers will be taken into consideration with the formation of these new procedures.

BOS Response to Recommendation 2: The Board adopted the Public Health Departmentís response as its response (the recommendation has not yet been implemented, but is projected to be implemented by July 1, 2000).

Grand Jury Finding 3: The MOU with DAWG excludes all volunteers except DAWG members.

PHD Response to Finding 3: Agree. The MOU between the Board of Supervisors and DAWG excluded all non-DAWG members from participating with dogs at the Santa Barbara Shelter. The new structure of a CountyĖwide volunteer program which is open to all applicants and supervised by the AH & R Department is anticipated to resolve this issue.

BOS Response to Finding 3: The Board adopted the Public Health Departmentís response as its response (Agree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 3: Any volunteer program should be placed under the auspices of the Director of Animal Health & Regulation, and should be opened to all volunteers.

PHD Response to Recommendation 3: Recommendation has been partially implemented. The BOS directed the Animal Health and Regulation Director to develop a County-wide volunteer program that is open to all persons who wish to volunteer. This program has been established. Volunteer policies have been developed and an interim coordinator has been hired. The AH & R Department has established regular volunteer meetings and other avenues of regular communication (volunteer newsletter) to bring cohesiveness to the program. As mentioned earlier, the BUNS organization still operates under a MOU. This relationship will be re-evaluated before February 18, 2001, and a recommendation will be brought to the BOS by the Public Health Department.

BOS Response to Recommendation 3: The Board adopted the Public Health Departmentís response as the BOS response (has been not yet been implemented, but will be implemented by February 2001 when the future of the Bunnies Urgently Needing Shelter Memorandum Of Understanding will be decided).

ANIMAL HEALTH AND REGULATION

(Renamed ANIMAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT April 10, 2000)

INTRODUCTION Part II

The Board of Supervisors (BOS) disposed of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Dog Adoption Welfare Group (DAWG) on February 15, 2000 and replaced it with a new Resolution 00-69 governing relations between DAWG and the Santa Barbara Animal Shelter. Once the situation between DAWG and Animal Health and Regulation (AH&R) was resolved, the Grand Jury turned its attention to the Animal Services (AS) facilities in North County to investigate shelter conditions for the animals, staff and volunteers.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Grand Jury Finding 4: Additional housing to accommodate cats and rabbits is needed.

AS Response to Finding 4: The Public Health Department and Animal Services, along with the Companion Animal Placement Assistance (CAPA) volunteer organization designated the building of the additional twelve dog kennel facility and the new visitation area as Phase One of the renovation project. It is agreed by all parties that additional space for cats and rabbits still needs to be developed.

PHD Response to Finding 4: Agree. The PHD Director adopts the response of the PHD Animal Servicesí Director as his response.

BOS Response to Finding 4: The Board adopted the Animal Service Directorís Response as its response (Agrees).

Grand Jury Recommendation 4: Provisions in the 2000-2001 capital budget should allocate the necessary funds to cover this expenditure.

AS Response to Recommendation 4: Not yet implemented, but is projected to be implemented by June 30, 2002.

The Santa Barbara County Capital Improvements Projects on page B-46 includes discussion of the renovation of the Lompoc Animal Shelter. The proposed renovation was originally designed in four phases. The staff and volunteers have condensed the project into two phases.

The first phase of the project included the addition of twelve (12) new dog kennels; a new food preparation, veterinary treatment, laundry and grooming area; development of two new outdoor dog/puppy visitation areas; and renovation of the shelterís existing eighteen (18) dog kennels. This phase is projected to be completed by August 10, 2000. The funding for this portion of the project was secured by the CAPA organization. To assist with Phase 1, the County built a new sound wall, replaced the flooring in the office portion of the shelter, replaced some of the existing fencing and repave the parking area and area surrounding the new kennel facility.

Phase 2 (which should complete the renovation of the Lompoc Animal Shelter) will now consist of development of a more suitable cattery; a designated area for the care and housing of rabbits; replacement of the night drop cages and addition of a cat exercise and visitation area.

The Capital Improvements Projects document projected a total cost of $184,000 for FY 2000-2001 which is currently unfunded. The staff and the volunteers are exploring various options to finalize the shelter renovation. Some of the alternatives include utilization of a donated modular building as the new cat facility with funding assistance from both public and private sources.

PHD Response to the Recommendation 4: Not yet been implemented.

The PHD Director adopts the response of the Animal Servicesí Director as his response, with this revision. The Santa Barbara County Capital Improvement Plan (page B-46) documents the remaining cost of the Lompoc Shelter renovation project at $184,000. This amount has not been identified for a County contribution. Its success will depend on private donations. There is no projected implementation date of this project.

BOS Response to the Recommendation 4: The recommendation has not yet been implemented, but may be implemented in the future only if $184,000 in funding is secured.

Grand Jury Finding 5: The Lompoc Shelter staff has been working one member short since 1988-1989.

AS Response to Finding 5: Agree.

PHD Response to Finding 5: Partially Agree. The staffing decisions made in 1988-89 were appropriate for that time. The population growth of Lompoc Valley causes the current need for additional staff.

BOS Response to Finding 5: The Board adopted the Public Health Department Directorís Response as its response (Partially agree; Staffing decisions made in the 1988-89 were appropriate at that time; the population growth of the Lompoc Valley causes the current need for additional staff).

Grand Jury Recommendation 5: The 2000-2001 capital budget should reflect additional funds for an Animal Control Officer at the Lompoc Animal Shelter.

AS Response to Recommendation 5: The recommendation has been implemented.

Staff requested that the position of Kennel Attendant at the Lompoc Animal Shelter be upgraded to Animal Control Officer for fiscal year 2000-2001. Additionally, the position of half time clerk at the Lompoc Shelter was increased to full time.

PHD Response to Recommendation 5: Implemented. The PHD Director adopts the response of the Animal Services Director as his response.

BOS Response to Recommendation 5: The Board adopted the Animal Service Directorís Response as its response (The Recommendation has been implemented).

Grand Jury Finding 6: There is no operational agreement between AH&R and CAPA volunteers covering the Lompoc Shelter.

BOS Response to Finding 6: Disagree. The Board of Supervisors enacted a Resolution establishing the rules and regulations for the care and maintenance of animals at the Animal Shelter by CAPA in March, 1997. The Resolution has an automatic renewal clause which is still in effect. The County has a good working relationship with the CAPA organization and feels that the Resolution is a viable operational agreement between the County and the volunteers.

Grand Jury Recommendation 6: An approved agreement is needed between AH&R and CAPA volunteers.

BOS Response to Recommendation 6: The Recommendation has been implemented. CAPA has a resolution defining the operational agreement with the County. Additionally, the County has established volunteer policies and a volunteer handbook providing guidelines for the volunteers assisting the Animal Services Department of the Public Health Department.

Grand Jury Finding 7: Previous Grand Jury Reports have stated what this Grand Jury has determined. Santa Maria definitely needs a larger facility. There is County-owned land on Foster Road, part of which is dedicated for a new Animal Shelter, free from any encroaching residential area.

AS Response to Finding 7: Agree

The current facility in Santa Maria is run down and over-crowded. More space and a more appropriate facility would provide a more healthful environment for the animals, a better work environment for staff and volunteers and a more inviting atmosphere for the public. Relocation to the Foster Road site would allow for direct access to County services and the creation of a shelter that would better meet the needs of both the community and the animals.

The County Capital Improvements Projects document discusses the Santa Maria Animal Shelter on page B - 41. The total estimated project cost is $2.4 million. For Fiscal Year 2000-2001, the document shows $1,717,000 of the project budget is unfunded.

PHD Response to Finding 7: Agree.

The PHD Director adopts the response of the Animal Servicesí Director as his response.

BOS Response to Finding 7: The Board adopted the Animal Service Directorís response as its response (Agrees).

Grand Jury Recommendation 7: The 1999-2000 Grand Jury highly recommends that the Board of Supervisors and the Public Health Department prioritize within the 2000-2001 AH&R Budget funds for building a new shelter in Santa Maria. Full funding could be accomplished through combined public/private funds. Building an Animal Shelter on Foster Road, where County buildings already exist, would be appropriate and should be done forthwith.

AS Response to Recommendation 7: Recommendation has not yet been implemented, but will be implemented in the future.

PHD Response to Recommendation 7: Not yet implemented. The PHD Director adopts the response of the PHD Animal Servicesí Director as his response, with this revision. The PHD budget for 2000-01 includes $300,000 to begin a capital campaign for this necessary shelter. The Santa Barbara County Capital Improvement Plan (page B-41) estimates the cost of this project at $2.4 million dollars. The Board of Supervisors has discussed partial funding from sales of the existing shelter and the Graciosa Road property. Ultimate success will depend on private donations. There is no projected implementation date of this project.

The proposed budget for 2000-2001 has a capital amount of $300,000 to begin the process of design and planning the new shelter in Santa Maria. The Public Health Department has designated these funds to facilitate the planning and design process. At the Capital Budget presentation on April 11, 2000 the Board of Supervisors discussed using the proceeds from the sale of the Graciosa Road property (estimated $250,000-$325,000) and the existing animal shelter (estimated $170,000-$200,000) to assist in the funding of a new shelter.

Funding would be through a combination of public and private monies. The capital campaign is expected to take eighteen months to two years to raise the remainder of funds needed to complete the project. The project construction phase would be nine to twelve months. Estimated date of completion for the new shelter would be November of 2003.

BOS Response To Recommendation 7: The Recommendation has not yet been implemented, but may be implemented in the future once $2.1 million in funding is secured. However, a total of $300,000 of County funding was allocated in 2000-2001 for some planning and design work.

Grand Jury Finding 8: There is a tremendous disparity in the number of animals destroyed between Santa Maria and the Santa Barbara Shelters (915 versus 94).

AS Response to Finding 8: Agree. The number of animals destroyed at the Santa Maria Shelter is unarguably higher than the other two shelters in the Santa Barbara County system. There are multiple reasons why this occurs. The Santa Maria shelter receives the highest number of animals of the three shelters. There is less community involvement (volunteer participation) at the Santa Maria Shelter. The implementation of the Countywide volunteer program and addition to the staff of a full time Coordinator of Community Outreach will allow the Animal Services Division to focus on this as a priority in FY 2000-2001.

The County has not tracked "adoptability" of animals that have been euthanized, as this is a newer concept and there was not a system in place by which these statistics could be maintained. The term adoptability refers to the overall evaluation of the animal, including its age, health, temperament, breed and other factors which would qualify the animal as a good candidate for adoption into a new home. The addition of animal shelter specific computer software, which was implemented in late May of 2000, should augment the tracking of adoptability of animals euthanized and records of those animals which are owner request euthanasia. This will give a more clear picture of statistics on euthanasia of adoptable animals in Santa Barbara County.

AS Response to Finding 8: Agree. The PHD Director adopts the response of the PHD Animal Servicesí Director as his response.

BOS Response to Finding 8: The Board adopted the Animal Service Directorís Response as its response (Agrees).

Grand Jury Recommendation 8: Whenever space permit, excess adoptable animals from the Santa Maria Shelter should be brought to the Lompoc and Santa Barbara Animal Shelters for housing and adoption.

AS Response to Recommendation 8: Recommendation has been implemented. As a result of terminating the MOU with Dog Adoption & Welfare Group on March 18, 2000, operational authority of the dog kennels at the Santa Barbara Shelter was returned to the County. The staff now has the flexibility to transfer animals among the three shelters at their discretion. A number of transfers have been done from the Santa Maria Shelter to both the Santa Barbara and Lompoc shelters. The County also works with various 501(c)3 animal organizations on adoption of animals that have not been placed through the Countyís shelter adoption program. The volunteers and staff have managed an offsite adoption program at the PETsMART store in Santa Maria in a combined effort. This program has had some success at finding additional homes for adoptable animals from the Santa Maria Shelter.

It should be noted that all three shelters in the County are often at capacity. The decision to euthanize an animal is always a difficult one. Staff is developing a procedure to evaluate the adoptability of animals in an ongoing process to ensure that each animal impounded by the County will have the optimal opportunity for adoption.

The Division is still in the training and implementation phase of the new computer system. The program went "live" in May of 2000, and staff is still learning the capabilities of the program. A website is planned for the Division to be implemented by December 1, 2000. Having the three shelters linked (which they now are) will also allow for a visual image of an animal at another shelter to be viewed remotely.

All staff and volunteers promote spaying and neutering enthusiastically. Nearly every animal (unless sick or extremely small) is spayed or neutered before it is released to its new home. The Department has literature in both Spanish and English on the topic of pet overpopulation and takes this to every event participated in.

The volunteers largely promote media advertising. The County is in the local newspapers on an ongoing basis. The FY 2000-2001 budget does not include funding for advertising, however substantial outreach efforts are available at no cost. The cooperative efforts of volunteers and staff provide outreach to media. Additionally, development of additional media contacts will be one of the responsibilities delegated to the new Community Outreach Coordinator.

PHD Response to Recommendation 8: Implemented. The PHD Director adopts the response of the PHD Animal Servicesí Director as his response.

BOS Response to Recommendation 8: The Board adopted the Animal Service Directorís Response as its response (Recommendation has been implemented).

Grand Jury Finding 9: Almost 10,000 cats and dogs were received at the County shelters in 1998-1999. It is obvious that responsible pet ownership needs to be actively promoted, so that pets are not treated as disposable goods.

AS Response to Finding 9: Agree.

PHD Response to Finding 9: Agree.

BOS Response to Finding 9: The Board adopted the Animal Service Directorís Response as its response (Agrees).

Grand Jury Recommendation 9: The 1999-2000 Grand Jury recommends inclusion in the budget, funding for an active program to be accessible on the internet and media advertising for the spaying, neutering, and adoption of pets.

AS Response to Recommendation 9: Recommendation has been implemented. The County was careful to ensure that the new software program purchased for the Animal Services Division was internet compatible. The program includes the capability to post digital photographs of stray and adoptable animals. The County has obtained three digital cameras through a program promoting the adoption of shelter animals.

PHD Response to Recommendation 9: Implemented. The PHD Director adopts the response of the Animal Servicesí Director as his response.

BOS Response to Recommendation 9: The Board adopted the Animal Service Directorís Response as its response (Recommendation has been implemented).

Grand Jury Finding 10: The Santa Maria Animal Shelter needs the services of an additional Animal Control Officer (ACO) to cover its extensive area of responsibility.

AS Response to Finding 10: Agree.

PHD Response to Finding 10: Agree.

BOS Response to Finding 10: The Board adopted the Animal Service Directorís Response as its response (Agrees).

Grand Jury Recommendation 10: The Board of Supervisors and the Public Health Department need to include funding for an additional ACO in their capital budget.

AS Response to Recommendation 10: The Recommendation has been implemented.

The Public Health Department has funded an additional position of an Animal Control Officer for the Santa Maria Shelter for fiscal year 2000-2001.

PHD Response to Recommendation 10: Implemented. The PHD Director adopts the response of the PHD Animal Service Director as his response. The County is progressing on upgrading the Lompoc Animal Shelter and building a new shelter to serve the Santa Maria community. Shelter conditions at the Lompoc Shelter are improving and the second phase of the renovation will resolve outstanding space issues at that shelter. The Public Health Department has begun to address the need for a new shelter at Santa Maria by budgeting $300,000 to begin the planning and development phase of the project.

Staffing needs and recommendations noted in the Grand Jury report have been implemented in the Fiscal Year 2000-2001 budget.

BOS Response to Recommendation 10: The Board adopted the Animal Service Directorís Response as its response (Recommendation has been implemented).

2000-2001 Grand Jury Comments

The majority of the Findings and Recommendations have been agreed to and have been adopted by the affected agencies. However, the pursuit of the new Animal Shelter for Santa Maria must remain a priority. The success of this project is dependent upon a major public commitment of funds as well as private donations. A stronger volunteer program is imperative.