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December 5, 2022

No Room at the Inn: Budget Cuts Leave Homeless Animals to Die

– Recent cuts at the Hollister Animal Shelter mean that most
local strays are being euthanized.
Hollister – Recent cuts at the Hollister Animal Shelter mean that most local strays are being euthanized.

With shelter staff reduced from six to two full-time employees, Animal Control Director Julie Carreiro said she has to euthanize most strays eight days after their arrival, rather than holding them until they’re adopted.

“We’ve really had to keep the shelter as empty as possible,” Carreiro said. “We can’t humanely care for the animals.”

Vivian Kennedy, founder of the animal rescue group All Creatures Great and Small, recalled visiting the shelter on Monday and seeing a mother cat with her seven kittens. In the past, the shelter would have held the animals until they found a home, but things have changed.

“If I don’t get them out before Friday, they’re going to lose their lives,” Kennedy said.

During the summer, the shelter normally approaches its 200-animal capacity, but it housed only 55 animals on Tuesday, Carreiro said. Although animal rescue groups have been trying to help out, resources are limited.

“The rescues are what have helped us through the whole lack of staffing, but now they’re completely full,” Carreiro said.

Kennedy said most foster homes in Hollister don’t have room for more animals.

“We’re getting to the point where it’s extremely difficult to place animals with other rescues,” she added.

It’s a dismaying situation for shelter volunteers, Kennedy said.

“Their hearts aren’t in it anymore,” she said.

The trouble began in January when City Manager Clint Quilter announced substantial service cuts due to the city’s budget deficit. The cuts included two temporary positions at the shelter, Carreiro said. And in February, one shelter employee left for another job, followed by another in May, leaving only Carreiro and one animal control officer to run the shelter and respond to field calls.

“That’s quite a workload,” Carreiro said.

The police department, in charge of the recruitment process, hired one replacement and is looking for another, Carreiro said. But it’s going to take time to train the new animal control officers.

“It’s basically still like having two people,” Carreiro said.

Even if a fourth staffer is found soon, the shelter won’t be running smoothly until early 2008, she added.

Mayor Brad Pike said he was frustrated when he heard about the increase in euthanizing animals, but he thinks the situation is improving.

“Now we have an opportunity to get back to a good level of service,” he said.

Kennedy said she’s contacted several city councilmembers about the problem. She isn’t impressed by what she considers a lack of action.

“They’re turning a blind eye,” Kennedy said.

Anthony Ha
A staff member edited this provided article.

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