Sutter County hires animal shelter critic
Sutter County officials on Monday hired the veterinarian who exposed "deplorable" conditions at their animal shelter.
Members of the Sutter Animal Services Authority voted 5-0 to spend $20,700 to contract with the U.C. Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program for a year.
John Miller, authority member and Yuba City's mayor, was absent.
Under the proposal, Koret workers will inspect the shelter, review protocols and analyze data to come up with recommendations about how staff should manage, clean, feed and house Sutter County's unwanted dogs and cats.
"I'm glad they've decided to move forward on this," said Kate Hurley, director of the Koret program.
Hurley's expertise can help authority member and officials figure out the best way to take care of stray dogs and cats while saving taxpayers money, said authority member and Sutter County Supervisor Stan Cleveland.
"They have the expertise overall for the big picture," Cleveland said after the meeting. "Sometimes we're too close to the trees while they can see the proverbial forest."
Hurley has been a vocal critic of the shelter's conditions, management and procedures. She inspected the shelter last year at the behest of the Sutter County grand jury.
The report, piggybacking off a similar report in 2007, ripped the shelter. Too many cats and dogs died in shelter kennels, workers unnecessarily exposed them to disease by not cleaning kennels properly and management failed to implement good policies, according to the report.
At the authority's last meeting, Hurley also told directors they needed to add more kennels to their planned multimillion dollar shelter to adequately manage the region's strays.
In the report, the grand jury recommended officials contract with the Koret program to correct the "deplorable" conditions they found. County officials reached out to Hurley, but she declined to work with them.
"She did not feel staff and management was open to her suggestions," said Megan Greve, principle analyst with the Sutter County Administrator's Office.
At the time, Sutter officials weren't willing to spend the money needed to do things differently, Hurley said.
"It's not a good use of your money for me to tell you all the things you need to do differently if you don't have the money to do them," Hurley said. "I didn't think that was going to be productive for either side."
Things have changed in the last year. Another report came out echoing the grand jury. Officials have spent $124,000 since July to get hot water, kill off a rat infestation, hire additional help and buy new cages. Things are moving in the right direction, Hurley said.
Part of that new direction is hiring a veterinarian or shelter manager with the expertise to relay quality information back to Koret staffers, something Hurley required before agreeing to work with the authority.
Koret staff will work eight to 12 hours a month as consultants who make recommendations about how to do things.
"That's not going to be enough to develop and implement and hold people accountable and train people for the types of protocols that need to be in place," Hurley said. "There's a need for someone who's there every day on the ground."
Sutter officials have agreed to hire such a person, but they want Hurley's help in finding someone, something she said she is willing to do.
To finalize a deal, Sutter County officials will have to work with U.C. Davis and Koret to draw up a contract.
CONTACT reporter Jonathan Edwards at email@example.com or 749-4780. Find him on Facebook at /ADjedwards or on Twitter at @ADjedwards.