Stanislaus County's animal shelter is inadequate and overcrowded, but the county and the cities that contract to use it are taking the right steps to correct the problem, according to the county civil grand jury.
Responding to a citizen's complaint, the grand jury looked into problems at the shelter, including chronic overcrowding. The report, released Monday, notes that the county and the cities that use the shelter are working on building a new shelter. That process should continue, and the county and cities should fund the new shelter "without delay," the report says.
The cost of the new shelter has been estimated at $10 million to $12 million. The county hopes to fund the new shelter with contributions from each of the cities based on use of the existing shelter. That would give Modesto a 41 percent share, the county 38.5 percent and Ceres 11 percent, according to county figures. Riverbank, Patterson, Waterford, Newman and Hughson make up the remaining 9.5 percent. Turlock and Oakdale operate their own shelters.
The grand jury also recommends the county continue to fund a spay and neuter program. Called Stanislaus County Alternative to Euthanasia, or SCATE, the program charges $50 for vaccinations, a microchip and a voucher for a spay or neuter at participating veterinarians.
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For a schedule of clinic times and locations, go to the animal services Web site.
Traci Jennings, founder of the Humane Society of Stanislaus County, filed the complaint in September with the grand jury. She said Monday that much of the problem she had with the shelter had to do with the management, which has changed.
Jennings urged the county to put more money and effort into the spay and neuter program to make fixing pets more affordable. Fixing a stray cat can cost $80 to $100 at a veterinary clinic, she said.
The Humane Society has held clinics that fixed 118 cats in two months, and she has a waiting list of 150 pet owners, Jennings said. The Humane Society clinic uses volunteer veterinarians and charges $10.
"It costs us more than that, but the point is to get it done," she said. The Humane Society relies on donations to make up the difference, Jennings said.
"I appreciate the grand jury work and effort they put into it," she said of the report.
Bee staff writer Tim Moran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2349.