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City to help fund animal shelter

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The Delta City Council has agreed to a monthly stipend of $1,400 to assure continued operation of the animal shelter in Delta.

The monthly stipend is contained in an operating agreement with TAILS, The Animal Interest League and Sanctuary, which is assuming shelter operation from CAWS.

Joe Messano and Brandy Ware, TAILS co-founders, attended a council work session last week to explain the funding request. Messano said TAILS, which is still in its formative stages, had lined up a veterinarian to provide services at a reduced cost. That veterinarian is no longer on board, and until a replacement is found, TAILS will have to pay the full cost for spays, neuters, microchipping and other veterinary care. "We are actively seeking a veterinarian who will give us shelter pricing," Messano assured council members.

The city covers the cost of utilities and most repairs at the city-owned facility on W. 4th Street. In response to a concern about "abuse" of the utilities, community development director Glen Black said those expenses came in under budget in 2016. Messano and Ware said they are careful to turn out the lights when they leave, and to maintain indoor temperatures as required by the Pet Animal Care Facilities Act, the state's licensing and inspection program for animal shelters.

The agreement calls for space to be made available for city impounds. If a stray animal is not claimed after five days, the animal may be relinquished to TAILS, which will then attempt to locate a new home for the animal. The city pays $25 per day for each impounded animal, and will attempt to recoup those boarding fees, plus fines, if the animal is claimed by its owner.

Sheriff's deputies also have access to the shelter, but have dropped off dogs just three times this year, all following the arrest of the dogs' owners for driving under the influence.

The city has been dealing with an unprecedented number of dogs running at large, Black said. His observation was confirmed by Messano, who said a total of 198 dogs were taken in in 2016. Year to date, the shelter has taken in 182 dogs.

He provided a breakdown of the intake for 2017 -- dogs, 134 from the city, 45 from the county and three new arrivals; cats, 45 city and 11 county.

Roberts questioned the number of dogs coming from the county, and if the county is doing its part to support shelter operations. Messano said he has not yet approached the county for funding. In the past, Black explained, the county has spread an allotted amount among all animal welfare organizations in the county to support spay/neuter programs.

Messano discussed the exchanges that occasionally take place between Delta and regional animal shelters to increase the likelihood of adoption. Some breeds are more popular in certain areas than others, he explained. For example, border collies and heelers are in high demand in Delta County. Small dogs are also adopted out very quickly.

Euthanization occurs only in extreme cases, such as for a vicious animal or one that's sick and suffering.

City manager David Torgler pointed out TAILS is trained and willing to operate the animal shelter at a lower cost than the city has been able to do in the past, and the facility is being fully utilized.

After the work session, the council moved into its regular meeting, where the vote was 5-0 to approve both the operating agreement and the lease agreement with TAILS.

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