Speak up for City’s Voiceless Animals

 

Ask the city to fund FAAS fairly

A year ago this month, Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS) informed the City of Alameda that the public-private partnership to run the shelter was not financially sustainable. 

We began serious discussions with the City Manager last April and submitted a proposal on Aug. 10, 2016. The City Council weighed in on this issue in October, directing staff to negotiate a new agreement with FAAS that would enable us to maintain the same high level of outcomes we have achieved over the last five years. 

We anticipate a response from city staff shortly, but time is running out. We are continuing to operate only by liquidating what is left of our reserve fund, which will take us only through the end of March. We will go to the City Council meeting Tuesday, Feb. 7, to reiterate the urgency of getting this resolved.

Our proposal is straightforward: we are asking that the city take full financial responsibility for all shelter operations mandated by City Charter and state law: to operate a facility for stray and surrendered animals that maintains an appropriate standard of care, to spay and neuter those animals and facilitate their adoption, to assure that all domestic pets are licensed and to dispose of dead animals. 

FAAS is committed to raising $425,000 annually to continue to pay for services that exceed city mandates and take us beyond the typical standard of care at municipal shelters: enhanced adoption programs, specialty medical care and behavioral rehabilitation and other programs that have resulted in an increase in the number of animals going home, being adopted or transferred to rescue groups from 75 percent when the city ran the shelter to up to 96 percent today. Considering that we receive about 1,000 animals a year, that’s a lot of lives saved. 

When the city last operated the shelter in 2011, the annual budget for all operations now managed by FAAS was just under $1 million. Since then, steadily increasing costs, the inefficiencies of an aging facility and higher expectations by our community have increased the amount needed to operate the shelter.

Based on the knowledge we have gained by running the shelter over the last five years, our proposal to the city reflects an annual cost of $1.375 million for city-mandated services. Under the terms of the original contract, we are currently receiving only $350,000. To make matters worse, the city has failed to live up to its end of the bargain in a number of ways, including maintaining the physical plant and hiring two part-time Animal Control Officers.

The end result is a staff that is underpaid and overworked, which has created an unsustainable level of turnover. Staff and volunteer dedication and some one-time financial windfalls have been the only reason we have managed thus far.

Since the city is obligated by law to have a shelter, it has only two options — allow FAAS to continue operating the shelter with the necessary funding or revert to a city-run shelter that provides only the bare minimum of services to the community and its animals and a return to high kill rates. 

We are asking that the city dedicate just $375,000 more to its commitment to public safety and animal welfare than it spent during the recessionary years leading up to 2012. This small amount is all that separates Alameda from turning an industry-standard shelter back into a municipal dog pound.

We believe our community wants the city to fund the shelter fairly. If you agree, contact members of the City Council, write letters to this newspaper and attend the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7. 

A complete list of email addresses for City Council members can be found on our website at www.alamedashelter.org in the section “Fair Funding from the City.” If you want Alameda to treat its voiceless animals humanely, you’ll need to speak up for them.