Tonight the City Council will vote on whether to join the Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority. A group of Palo Altans hope to change council members' minds about ending its agreement with a Palo Alto animal shelter that may close without Mountain View's business.
Council members unanimously voted to dump Palo Alto Animal Services in November, but tonight the council will vote on whether to join Santa Clara-based SVACA. Joining SVACA will save the city $40,000 a year, according to a staff report released Thursday.
Palo Alto's shelter stands to lose $450,000 a year without Mountain View's contract. That has put Palo Alto between a rock and hard spot, and a car dealership may be built at the Bayshore Road site instead and 13 employees would lose their jobs. A Palo Alto-based group called "Save our Shelter" is expected to speak at the City Council meeting tonight and has gathered nearly 1,000 signatures in support.
"Mountain View didn't really weigh all the benefits and drawbacks with SVACA," said Luke Stangel, spokesperson for Save our Shelter. "With SVACA, Mountain View is actually going to get a lower level of service."
Stangel pointed to the cost for surrendering a family dog or cat, something many families have had to do during the recession in order to move away or into an apartment complex that won't allow pets. The cost of surrendering a dog or cat to SVACA is $150, while Palo Alto charges nothing.
SVACA director Dan Soszynski said the fee was raised in recent years to discourage people from dumping their animals at the shelter, though SVACA has worked with people who cannot afford it. SOS members have said that will mean more stray animals in Mountain View.
"We do our best to work with people to try and accept those animals into our program," Soszynski said. "One little dog was brought in by a senior who was in kind of a tough spot. We were able to bring the dog in and it's been here for a few months."
Soszynski noted that overall euthanasia rates for dogs and cats in recent years are similar to to what PAAS has reported, and can be found on SVACA's website. SVACA reports an 82 percent survival rate for dogs and cats for 2011 while PAAS reports 76 percent.
Soszynski also pointed to slightly cheaper fees for spaying and neutering animals at SVACA than PAAS, and added that Mountain View police would no longer have to deal with dangerous dog cases or animal cruelty cases. But SVACA fees for adoption are higher, $150 versus $100 at PAAS.
SVACA is also three miles further away from Castro Street than the Palo Alto shelter, adding two to five minutes to a trip from City Hall, according to Google maps.
To keep Mountain View, city staff members reported in November that PAAS offered to extend its shelter hours from 30 to 43 hours a week, 7.5 hours more than SVACA's posted shelter hours. Recently proposed budget cuts to PAAS could also save Mountain View an untold amount. PAAS also offered to waive any costs for renovating its aging shelter facility, Mountain View's share of which was an estimated $2 million.