City barks up new tree for animal control | April 29, 2011 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - April 29, 2011

City barks up new tree for animal control

Council considers money-saving contract with Santa Clara based agency

by Daniel DeBolt

The city is taking a serious look at switching from Palo Alto Animal Services to a Santa Clara-based service in order to save about $150,000 a year on animal control.

City Council members were undecided in a study session Tuesday as to whether to renew a contract with the city of Palo Alto's police department for animal control services. Switching to Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority would mean more animal services at less cost, though residents would pay slightly more for services and the shelter is located a few miles further away than Palo Alto's, about 8.5 miles from City Hall.

An example of SVACA's increased services is that officers would be able to respond to Mountain View 12 hours a day, Monday through Friday, compared to Palo Alto's nine hours a day. SVACA has a new facility, while Palo Alto's 1970s building needs costly upgrades, which have been put on hold since Sunnyvale canceled its contract with PAAS several years ago.

A SVACA contract would also free up a Mountain View community services officer who investigates an average of 35 animal cases a year.

Some were concerned it would take longer for SVACA to respond to calls about a stray dog or dangerous animal. Palo Alto's average response time to Mountain View is 34 minutes while SVACA's average response times to Campbell and Monte Sereno is 28 minutes. SVACA officials said the goal would be to have a truck dedicated to Mountain View for quick response times.

On average, SVACA's services will be slightly higher for residents. It would cost $42 to license an altered dog for three years, compared to $35 now charged by Palo Alto. Some services would be cheaper; SVACA would charge only $75 to spay or neuter a dog while Palo Alto charges between $100 and $215.

Mountain View police commander Max Bosel said SVACA "is not a lesser qualified provider in terms of services" when compared to Palo Alto Animal Services.

Council member Margaret Abe-Koga noted another selling point: a Mountain View city official would have a seat on SVACA's governing board at regular meetings, whereas Palo Alto, which also serve Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, only meets with partnering cities on an as-needed basis.

Council member Laura Macias appeared to be the staunchest defender of the Palo Alto animal services contract, saying that the city's analysis has not taken into enough consideration the needs of the city's pet owners who would appreciate the proximity of the Palo Alto shelter. She and other council members said they would like to discuss potential cost saving with Palo Alto before deciding to pull the city's dollars away completely — something that would have a major financial impact on Palo Alto Animal Services, Bosel said.

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at


Posted by MVFlyer, a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I'm glad the council is looking at alternatives, although I have no complaints with PA Animal Control's coverage. Looking at cost-saving alternatives is their job.

That said, I agree with Macias to discuss the matter with Palo Alto first, to see if there's any place some cutting can be done. For example, if PA were to charge MV residents the $7 more that SVACA charges for licensing, this would eliminate much of the difference. I disagree that the distance to SVACA's facility is a problem--most of the city's animals don't get lost, thus don't end up at the shelter.

Posted by Bowser, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 28, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Err.. SVACA tends to euthanize at a much higher rate than PA.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 28, 2011 at 3:53 pm

As long as whoever does the job enforces the leash law at Bubb Park, I'm for it. The crowd that gathers every Saturday near the playground is getting huge and its only a matter of time before a leashed dog walking through or a child gets hurt. Currently if you're walking your dog on a leash in Bubb Park you can expect to be RUSHED by a pack of about 5-10 dogs while their owners try and pretend they have voic control over them (they don't)


Posted by Chin, a resident of Whisman Station
on Apr 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Why does Council member Margaret Abe-Koga consider having regular meetings at SVACA a "selling point" compared to meeting "on a as needed basis"? Do council members get paid for each meeting they attend? - thinking about what I have read about the scandal in southern California's city of Bell where city officials were earning a lot of money.

Posted by Snoopy, a resident of Whisman Station
on Apr 28, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Dave must be a toy dog/cat person.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 29, 2011 at 10:53 am

Snoopy must be one of those rogue dog owners, the one's who give the law abiding dog owners like myself a bad name. BTW, I own an Australian Shepherd snark puppy. Can't wait until the tickets start flying!

Posted by DogCop, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 29, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Snoopy, that was classic "Attack the messanger" stuff. Pretty weak.

Posted by Meow, a resident of Whisman Station
on Apr 30, 2011 at 6:54 am

Oh great, now we've got 'rogue dog owners' in Mountain View!