Columnist Concerned About Grand Jury Report on Antioch Animal Shelter

Contra Costa County Grand Jury Report 1205 studied the three open- admission public animal shelters in the county – two operated by the County and one operated by the City of Antioch.

This month, the Antioch Chief of Police sent the Mayor and City Council suggested responses (see below) to the Grand Jury asking that Council transmit “as is” or propose alternative language to the responses. (State law requires the City Council respond to Grand Jury reports).

GRAND JURY FINDING: The Antioch Shelter currently has an insufficient number of volunteers to provide adequate time out of kennels for training, socialization, playtime or exercise for the animals each day, which is part of the humane treatment of animals. REPLY: Respondent disagrees. We are unaware of any widely accepted standards for the ratio of volunteers to animals in a shelter. Furthermore, the number of volunteers a shelter has “on the books” seems less important that the number of effective hours that active volunteers as a whole are providing and what duties they are actually completing. (NOTE: In 2010, the Animal Shelter laid off its volunteer coordinator, losing a resource to recruit, train and supervise volunteers.)

FINDING: The Antioch Shelter spay/neuter fees are higher than fees charged for comparable services by nearby shelters and, for this reason, may discourage adoptions from the shelter. REPLY: Respondent agrees.
FINDING: The cost differences between the shelters (Antioch and the County) are great enough to merit closer examinations of the cost effectiveness: REPLY: Respondent agrees.
FINDING: Both the Antioch Shelter and the County Shelters should examine its cost per animal to ensure the amount being spent provides efficient, effective and humane treatment of the animals. REPLY: The recommendation has been implemented.

FINDING: The Antioch Shelter and the County Shelters should consider establishing advisory councils to provide direction and suggest priorities for each shelter. REPLY: The recommendation is not reasonable. Comment goes on to state the formation of an advisory council would create another step of additional bureaucracy for information to reach the Chief of Police, City Manger and the City Council and that currently there is insufficient staff or resources to support such an advisory council.

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