REGION — On July 1, the San Diego Humane Society took over animal control services for a number of North County cities.
The nonprofit won numerous contracts after San Diego County opted to stop providing the services.
Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, San Diego, Santee and Solana Beach all made the switch on July 1. the San Diego Humane Society already provides animal services to the Escondido, Imperial Beach, Oceanside, Poway, San Marcos and Vista.
San Diego Humane Society CEO Gary Weitzman said the new contracts are similar and if extensions are included, each can run up to five years.
“What it means for North County is that we are covering the services that were formerly covered by the county,” he said. “It adds another 20,000 animals. We’re excited and happy taking it on.”
By working closely with local shelters and animal rescue groups, the San Diego Humane Society has achieved a 94 percent live release rate for the past four years and has not euthanized a healthy or treatable animal since 2001.
Additionally, the new contracts add 20,000 animals to the humane society’s responsibility. Prior to the new contracts, Weitzman said, the organization handled 30,000 animals — 20,000 companion and 10,000 wildlife.
The services, he said, will provide residents throughout the county with more coverage. Weitzman said they are open seven days per week, on-call 24 hours per day and set up a call center.
He said licensing, renewal, adoption, vaccine clinics and spay and neuter services, as well as three kitten nurseries, are included plus Project Wildlife to cover all wildlife services. The humane law enforcement division, which has certified officers by the state to respond to cruelty cases and handle animal control calls, is also included.
As for licensing, residents must license their animals only if a license has expired. For those current, Weitzman said once those licenses come up for renewal, the Humane Society will send out reminders and then residents can license through the nonprofit.
“Don’t worry unless it’s expired,” he explained.
Due to the additional contracts, and sizable increase in animals, Weitzman said San Diego Humane Society has added 200 employees over the past several months.
“One thing I think that will be very visible for the public is we privately fund extra services that cities aren’t required to provide,” he added. “What the public will see is a lot more services and people providing it.”
However, there are still two operational county shelters, one in Carlsbad (adoption and claiming strays) on Palomar Airport Road, and one in Bonita servicing the unincorporated parts of the county. Weitzman said the county will continue to staff those shelters until it makes a decision on who the long-term provider will be.
He said the Humane Society has submitted an RFP, but the decision isn’t expected until August or September.
“We were looking forward to making it easier for the public to call,” Weitzman added. “There is one number to call. That’s going to be a big help.”
As of July 1, Carlsbad residents should call (619) 243-3466 for animal-related concerns such as strays, barking dogs and emergencies. Visit sdhumane.org for information about adoptions, lost and found pets, and other services. Shelters are at 2905 San Luis Rey Road (dogs only) in Oceanside; 572 Airport Road in Oceanside (for cats and small animals).
The phone number for both shelters is (619) 299-7012. The hours for both are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday.