Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Shasta County Grand jury calls county animal shelter unhealthy and beyond repair

The Shasta County animal shelter on Radio Lane in Redding is beyond repair, the 19-member Shasta County grand jury agreed today.

Calling the shelter, which is more than 55 years old, inadequate and unhealthy, the grand jury said in its annual report today that the county should consider contracting with the Haven Humane Society, when funding becomes available, for the sheltering, care and licensing off all county animals.

Mayra Morris, the shelter’s manager, agreed today that the shelter is indeed old and dilapidated and that a new one is needed.

“Yes, this is not the Taj Mahal,” she said.

But she opposes the county contracting with Haven, saying she believes her staff does an excellent job, saying the shelter’s adoption rate is about 78 percent.

She also took issue with several findings in the grand jury report, which she said were inaccurate.

“I was disturbed with the whole report,” Morris said. “I wish the jury would have consulted with me more.”

Although the 2006-07 grand jury recommended in its report that a new animal shelter be built, the 2009-10 grand jury said that “nothing has been done to improve the facility or working conditions.”

But in comparison, it said, the Haven Humane Society facility is larger, well maintained, well organized and offers a wide range of services.

“As a first step, Shasta County should consider an agreement with Haven Humane Society to temporarily house county animals and livestock, excluding high-risk animals, during periods of crowding,” the grand jury report said.

But, it also says, when there’s money available Haven should shelter all the county’s animals on a permanent basis.

When the grand jury toured the facility, the report said, jurors found no isolation area for sick animals.

“During the inspection, several sick animals were outside, unsheltered and tied to a fence,” the report said.

But Morris said those dogs were only tied to the fence for 15 minutes before the facility opened as their outdoor and sheltered runs were being cleaned.

Still, the report said, poor air circulation between the main animal population and sick animals continues to put healthy animals at risk of contracting disease.

“Having no air conditioning in the facility when the temperature exceeds 100 degrees has a potential adverse effect on the animals, workers and the public,” the grand jury report says.

And, it says, due to the urine-saturated surfaces, the stench in the animal shelter cannot be eliminated by normal cleaning.

“This creates a potential health hazard to all involved,” the report concludes.

According to the grand jury’s report, $3 million had been set aside toward the projected cost of a new shelter, which is about $8 million.

Due to economic conditions, however, some of that money was transferred to save 16 jobs in the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, and the remainder was transferred to the county’s general fund, the report said.

Morris disputed that claim, saying the $3 million still remains available for the construction of a new animal shelter, which she believes would now cost less than $8 million due to the economy.


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