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Sutter animal services fees under review

The Sutter Animal Services Authority appeared to be in support Monday of a plan to give people interested in adopting older animals a break on fees, and to increase the fees charged to surrender an animal to the shelter.

Those changes were among several that got an airing at the monthly joint powers authority meeting, and part of a long list of issues that elected officials must weigh in on prior to completion of a new facility on Garden Highway.

Adult and senior dogs and cats, said Interim Shelter Manager Bob Clary, "are at a disadvantage having to compete with puppies and kittens."

Adoption fees in general — but especially those for adult and senior pets — would be reduced under the plan.

"It is anticipated that the reduced fees would generate increased adoptions as well as reduced expenses related to euthanasia," reads a staff report on the subject.

Click here for a link to previous shelter stories.

Yuba City Mayor John Buckland, who replaced Councilman John Miller on the Sutter Animal Services Authority board last month, said he was interested in policies to improve not only the quantity, but the quality of adoptions.

His daughter, he said, adopted a cat from the Sutter County shelter several years ago. Due to the animal's health problems, it is "now the most expensive cat in Sutter County," he said.

Buckland suggested soliciting post-adoption survey information.

With construction on a new $5 million regional animal shelter under way for Yuba City, Live Oak and Sutter County, city and county administrators are focused on policies and procedures under which to operate the facility.

A scathing grand-jury report last year revealed horrific conditions at the shelter on Second Street in Yuba City. Fallout from the report led the three agencies involved to agree on the need to rebuild animal care operations plans from scratch.

As for the increase in surrender fees, Clary said that efforts must be made to discourage pet owners who regard animals as disposable.

"By increasing the fees charged to owners who choose to surrender their pets to the shelter, fewer pets may be surrendered," reads the staff report.

And those who cannot produce identification proving they are residents of Sutter County will no longer be allowed to surrender pets there.

Currently, nonresidents pay $55 to surrender an adult dog, and $35 to surrender an adult cats. Those fees are higher than they are for residents.

Some on the board expressed concern that raising surrender fees would have unintended consequences.

"If it's too expensive, we might find more animals abandoned," said Gary Baland, mayor of Live Oak. "They'll end up roaming through our rural areas."

As with other changes being made to shelter policies, tracking results over time will be key, Clary said. Adjustments will be made accordingly after weighing the success of changes, he said.

"We're here, first and foremost, to reunite owners with their animals," Clary said. "We're not a depository for unwanted animals."

CONTACT Nancy Pasternack at npasternack@appealdemocrat.com or 749-4781. Find her on Facebook at /ADnpasternack or on Twitter at @ADnpasternack.


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