County and City Wrangling over Much-Needed Animal Shelter
More than 4,700 dogs and cats were taken to the Sutter county animal shelter last year. Nearly half had to be euthanized.

Now, there may be new life for a new shelter that supporters say would give them two valuable commodities... space and time.

Everyone we talked to agrees a new shelter is needed, but after five years of haggling over funding, Yuba City Manager Steve Jepsen told a committee last week that Yuba City would be better off building a new shelter without the county.  Tuesday night, he had a change of heart.

Why does everyone from the local taxpayers group to current county shelter supervisor, Cheryl Bohamman say a new 10,000 square foot shelter is needed to replace the current 4,000 square foot one?  For one thing, a new building wouldn't be made of materials that attract viruses and disease-harboring rodents...and there wouldn't be four dogs to a kennel.

"The animals would be more adoptable, less stress, better health and we'd have more public involvement,” said Bohammon.

Besides the capacity issue for the dogs and cats, there is also the capacity issue for other animals like, say chinchillas. They are currently staying in one of the offices.

Supporters of the shelter breathed a sigh of relief this week when Jepsen asked the board to delay formally scrapping plans for a shelter at least for another couple of weeks.  He declined to be interviewed, but Randy Cagle with the county says the issue is money.

"66% of the population we serve are in Yuba City, 8% in Live Oak and the remainder is in the unincorporated county. That's the way we apportion the occupational costs.  Yuba City thinks that's too high,” said Cagle.

The city makes up 72% of calls for service, according to Cagle. He and Supervisor Jim Whiteaker say sticking with the talks is the right thing to do. "Hopefully, we can get back together and work out our issues,” he said.

Animal lovers and taxpayers like Diana Johnson agree. "Times are hard for everybody right now and it's hard to find homes for these animals....but they gotta go somewhere instead of being...out there,” she said.

An arbitrator may be brought in to make a decision that both sides will have to abide by.  The county says it has backup plans of joining forces with Yuba County to expand the shelter there or building a new shelter in the town of Live Oak.  The chinchillas, by the way apparently cost $500 normally, but at the shelter, they can be had for $20 for the two of them.