“Our facility is old, it’s aging, it’s a poor location, it’s difficult to find, and it’s too small.”
The shelter serving Tracy now, on Arbor Road near the city’s waste treatment plant north of Interstate 205, was first built sometime in the 1970s, Miller said. And it needs an update.
Miller has said in the past that the Tracy shelter is “average” when it comes to saving adult felines, but has said the local shelter euthanizes only 20 percent of the dogs that stay in its kennels, while the typical shelter puts down about 60 percent. Of that 20 percent at the Tracy shelter, Miller said, only half are put down because there’s no room.
But more space and a better location mean there’s a better chance of improving animals’ odds of survival. Plus, the building is falling apart, Miller said last week, adding it’s a constant struggle to keep the building in good shape.
“It’s constant maintenance,” he said.
It’s a problem facing animal shelters all around San Joaquin County, according to a presentation to the county board of supervisors Aug. 2. The consultant-prepared report details both the need for new shelter facilities as well as a possible remedy — namely, forming a joint power agreement between the county and its cities to provide animal services.
The report envisions Tracy, Manteca and other county cities join with Stockton and the county to build a new animal shelter.
Consultants Tammie Murrell and Sue Marks-Gibbs said such JPAs have been formed in as little as six months, but the proposal before San Joaquin County officials is in its early stages.
County Administrator Manuel Lopez said that no location had been identified for the potential joint shelter, and money to build it is in short supply.
“We haven’t identified the land yet,” he said. “There’s not a pot of money there. None of the cities nor the county have the revenue today.”
But folding the shelter, licensing, adoption, vet care and other services into one centralized location would be more efficient, said Murrell and Marks-Gibbs.
“We know every JPA founded in California has succeeded,” Murrell said following her presentation, adding that their study reveals improved service for lower costs across the board.
But it’s not surefire that the proposal is the answer to Tracy’s animal shelter problem, local officials say.
Miller said one of the major drawbacks with the city’s current digs is that folks don’t always want to travel to its out-of-the-way location, an issue that could be exacerbated if a joint shelter is built in a more county-central location like Stockton or French Camp.
“I think that’s too far to be convenient to Tracy residents,” he said.
“More convenience, (a) more logical location would increase our adoption rate. Every time we euthanize an animal, it represents a failure for us.”
City Manager Leon Churchill, who has been a part of talks regarding a joint shelter agreement, said that Tracy’s needs are his first priority when looking at a new shelter.
“We’ll participate (in this process), but I think this community’s goals are slightly different,” Churchill said.
In the past couple years, the city has hosted workshops and meetings to figure out what the public wants from a shelter and what can be done to build a new one.
But the capital funds don’t exist right now for Tracy to build a shelter on its own, though animal services as a whole will cost Tracy only $607,000 for 2011-12.
“Right now, we’re trying to look for possibilities with the county,” Churchill said.
Miller, for one, is convinced Tracy deserves its own shelter.
“I think a city of our size is worthy of our own animal shelter, or at least a localized satellite facility of a larger (joint powers agreement),” he said.