Riverside County animal shelter faces possible partial closure due to budget shortfall

SAN JACINTO, Calif. (KABC) -- A budget shortfall could put an end to animal services at Riverside County's San Jacinto Animal shelter. For residents in the surrounding community it could mean a longer drive to adopt or find a lost pet.

"It is kind of a shame because a lot people are affected, not only the people who work here but people in the community," said Frank Jones of Hemet.

Jones visited the shelter to see if a dog he and his girlfriend adopted was ready for pickup following spay procedure performed on all animals before they leave the facility.

"This is probably one of the nicer shelters in the area," he said.

The Riverside County Department of Animal Service is facing a $2.8 million cuts to it budget starting July 1, the start of the county's fiscal year. Less funding would mean the partial closure of its San Jacinto shelter and other measures to make up some of the shortfall.

"Partial shutdown means only our officers and licensing officers would be here as a home base. So, they would still dispatch out of this shelter but they would not bring the animals here," said John Welsh, spokesman for the Department of Animal Services.

All animal service including low cost spay and neutering along with vaccination programs would cease. The remaining stray dogs and cats will be moved to the county's two other shelters located in Thousand Palms and Jurupa Valley.

"The presence we have in the community here make people aware of animal care," said shelter volunteer, Barbara Djordjevic.

Pet licensing fees and the rate cities pay to contract with the county would also likely increase. The budget cut is under consideration by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors as it tries to trim $21 million from the overall budget. Even so, supervisors seemed to want to try and figure out another solution to avoid some of drastic measures.

"My fear of course is the rate and fees in recognition of the budget cuts will become so high that lose residents willing to license their animals or to spay and neuter services or other services," said Supervisor Kevin Jeffries.

"I think that there is probably some ways to find efficiencies that might reduce the need for quite drastic cuts," said Supervisor Chuck Washington

The Board of Supervisors will take up the budget again next Tuesday.
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