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San Bernardino animal shelter shows ‘huge’ improvement
Saturday, June 20, 2015, 16815 views
San Bernardino Sun:
By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: |
 >> The narrative that problems here have increasingly worsened since the August 2012 bankruptcy filing gets turned upside down when it comes to the city-run animal shelter.

Built more than 50 years ago, the shelter on Chandler Place still faces many more animals than it’s equipped to handle and the same types of funding issues that plague other aspects of city operations.

But the percentage of animals euthanized because of those and other difficulties is close to one-third what it was before the bankruptcy — 24.7 percent of the animals taken to the shelter during 2014 compared to 65.8 percent in the first half of 2012, according to city figures.

• Photos: San Bernardino City Animal Shelter

Figures from 2015 look like they’ll be even better, with adoption rates increasing as euthanasia rates drop.

And the rescuers who once railed against shelter staff now say it’s becoming something almost unthinkable a few years earlier: a positive example.

“Even the word huge isn’t enough,” said Dora Holmes, CEO of Animal Alliance Rescue Foundation, San Bernardino, , describing the changes to a shelter whose operations she and one other rescue group bid to take over in August. “The overall atmosphere is so much better. People are smiling when you go in there. They are more helpful, they are eager to help.”

The organizations’ proposals, encouraged by city officials, were turned down because neither group could improve on the $2 million animal control uses per year ($588,000 from the general fund in 2014, with the rest coming from contracts with neighboring services, licenses and other revenue generators). Other efforts — proposals for regionalization and to build a new shelter, for example — haven’t come through, either.

But some simple changes have made a drastic difference, said Capt. Paul Williams of the San Bernardino Police Department, which runs the shelter.

“We’re working much better with the rescues,” Williams said. “There are groups that specialize in different breeds... and we’re able to make connections with them.”

In addition to direct help finding homes for dogs and cats, such volunteers are sometimes able to temporarily house an animal when the shelter has no space and has held it for the minimum allowed under the law, he said. That means more time to find a “forever home,” and more of adoptions.

The staff at the shelter also care deeply and work diligently, Williams said. As an example, he pointed to a program where in addition to regular duties each of the employees there “adopts” a dog or cat within the shelter, checking up on it in particular.

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