Bakersfield and Kern County discuss cost of animal shelter repairs

The Kern County Animal Shelter is in bad need of repairs. On Wednesday, the City of Bakersfield and Kern County discussed how to jointly finance the shelter.

The Kern County Animal Shelter is in bad need of repairs. On Wednesday, the City of Bakersfield and Kern County discussed how to jointly finance the shelter.

The City said it's ready to pay its fair share, but what that may be is undecided.

"The facility is just not set up for us to be able to properly treat the animals in an area that makes them get better," said Jen Woodard, Director of Kern County Animal Control.

32,000 animals are brought to the Kern County Animal Shelter each year.

"The population of animals has grown quite extensively in the last ten years, "said Woodard. "We've added 10,000 additional animals to the intake."

Woodard said the shelter isn't built to handle it.

"The facility was originally set up as a trap and kill older style animal control, and now we're in this wave of progressiveness where we want to provide treatment for animals," said Woodard.

Currently, the county runs the shelter. This year, the city paid $840,000 to use it. But, the county wants the city to pay more and get more involved, something they discussed at a bi-monthly meeting Wednesday.

"The city is really looking at this from the perspective that 'we really need to pay our fair share', but we think that should be related to the direct services provided to caring for the animals that we bring in," said Steven Teglia, Assistant to the City Manager.

This means they don't want to pay for employees that help with the shelter, but work in other departments or other indirect costs.

"City taxpayers are taxpayers of the county, and we think that some of the overhead costs shouldn't be attributable to the city's contract," said Teglia.

If the city can't come to an agreement, they said they may end shelter services with the county altogether. But, they still have months to decide.

"I think this is part of a long-term process that needs to be done if we are going to have a long-term agreement," said Teglia.

The current contract is up in June, but they hope to reach an agreement by April. If they don't reach an agreement by June, there are provisions to extend the current contract.

Before both sides agree, they need to get over a dispute about an expensive spay and neuter contract.

Since 2005, the animal shelter has used a service called Angel Dogs to spay and neuter their animals. But, with a $900,000 contract, the city wasn't pleased that they weren't notified.

Angel Dogs is a mobile medical pet service that comes to the shelter.

The shelter said Angel Dogs gives them the space to spay and neuter dozens of dogs and cats at one time. Kern County Animal Control used some of those services recently which angered the city, since the city is now helping finance the shelter.

"It's been an ongoing contract that's been renewed, but now we are in a place where the city is much more involved," said Woodard. "It was really just a miscommunication that we didn't think was going to be a big issue to the city, and it was an honest mistake that we didn't talk to them ahead of time to get their input."

"When it's a sole source agreement it means there wasn't a broader proposal or a discussion of options, and what I think I'm saying and the city is saying is 'let's explore options before we commit to such a large agreement'," said Teglia.

The city found out about the contract through an e-mail of the county board agenda.

The Kern County Animal Shelter has since renegotiated a shorter contract for $378,000.

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