REGION — The City of San Diego and Santee have joined Carlsbad in unanimously approving animal services contracts with San Diego Humane Society, beginning July 1 of this year. Del Mar, Encinitas, and Solana Beach plan to vote on the issue in the next few weeks. All are expected to approve.
With July fast approaching, residents of affected cities are wondering what to expect from the coming change in animal services providers, and how it may affect them.
Most Carlsbad residents have been happy with the San Diego County Department of Animal Care and the beautiful shelter on Palomar Airport Road. The coming change is not due to dissatisfaction with current services, but to the county’s decision to no longer offer animal services to contract cities.
While the San Diego Humane Society is widely loved and supported, and is an acknowledged leader in setting the standards of animal care, the expected annual increase in animal intake and service area will be challenging.
Some issues are clear. Dog licensing fees will continue to be set by each city, and owners will be able to purchase them conveniently online. Adoption fees will be standardized, with special promotions offered at least once a month.
There will be a central dispatch number to reach animal control officers, answered 7 days a week, 8-6. For holiday and after hours emergencies, residents will be directed to call local law enforcement, who will have 24 hour access to animal control officers.
In addition, San Diego Humane Society’s strong donor base and enthusiastic volunteer force allow them to offer a rich array of enhanced services benefitting both two- and four-legged members of the community.
Still, there are some areas of concern. Low cost spay and neuter services are a crucial part of maintaining a humane community. Currently, the popular voucher program is suspended due to the upcoming transition.
Dorell Sackett of Spay-Neuter Action Program states, “I am hopeful that SNAP can continue to assist financially-challenged pet owners in Carlsbad and Encinitas, by providing them with lifesaving spay and neuter coupons.”
Humane Society President Gary Weitzman emphatically agrees that low cost spays and neuters are an essential part of animal services, and will meet with Sackett later this week to discuss the program.
Carlsbad Mayor Pro Tem Keith Blackburn expressed concerns at last week’s city council meeting about shelter facilities. Beginning July 1, animals impounded in Carlsbad will be housed at the San Diego Humane facility on Airport Road in Oceanside. Blackburn felt the drive to Oceanside to retrieve a lost pet would be less convenient for Carlsbad residents, and feared the new contracts might cause shelter overcrowding and thus a reduction in quality of care for the animals.
Weitzman assured him that standards of care will not suffer. The Humane Society has spent more than a year preparing for this opportunity, and is ready for the increase.
The availability of the Palomar Airport Road facility remains unknown, until the managed competition for animal services to unincorporated areas of the county concludes, tentatively in late August. Should the Humane Society prevail, that shelter would be used to house animals from Carlsbad.
Meanwhile, they are building out their Oceanside shelter to accommodate an additional 5-6,000 animals, and are looking into temporary holding space within Carlsbad for residents’ convenience.
Weitzman reiterated that his organization will strive to “make sure it’s as easy as possible for people to find their lost pets. We will try to find something that is a convenient alternative for them, if that would provide better service.”