Executives from Sacramento County, California have admitted that the county is mulling the option of ending animal care services, a decision that will eventually affect the welfare of abandoned animals in the area. The news came several months after the county has built a pet shelter worth $23 million.
The county’s plan to instead consolidate its regional pet care services came after Pat Claerbout, director of pet shelters in the area, has been dismissed. According to local officials, a widening budget deficit is the primary reason behind the proposed change in policy. The deficit is the third that the county has suffered in a three-year period.
Officials further added that the existing model for pet care is simply not sustainable, unless the county can find another way to generate revenue. While the proposed changed is under deliberation, shelters all around the area are cutting costs in an effort to keep these pet care facilities open.
Sacramento County is being hit by decreasing revenue from sales and property tax and fund shortage for pay increase negotiations. Foreclosures also played their role, officials revealed. With less people buying homes foreclosures for sale, the county is unable to recoup losses from property taxes.
County-wide budget cuts are already affecting abandoned animals in animal care facilities, with staff reduced by over 40% within the two-year period. In addition, more than 30 positions are expected to be eliminated from major animal facilities in the coming months.
The fiscal period that will start on July 1, 2010 is expected to create a deficit of $181 million. In an effort to lower the deficit, 750 jobs were eliminated in 2010, with further layoffs expected before the end of the year. If the proposed elimination of a further 1,000 employees is approved, the total number of employees dismissed for the year will total more than 11,000.
Local officials have met with animal advocates to discuss the possibility of providing animal services through a regional collaboration. Licensing and housing for abandoned animals are on top of the agenda during the meeting. Majority of animal advocates have expressed support for the proposed regional services.