City contracts animal services to SPCA, Homeless Center

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) After a highly public feud with Kern County Animal Control, the Bakersfield City Council awarded a $742,000 contract to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to take over managing animal control issues for the city.

And, the Council awarded a separate contract for $210,000 to the Bakersfield Homeless Center to provide staff for the new City Animal Care Center.

"I think it's a happy day for the animals and family members of this community to know that the animals are going to have a respectable place," said Mayor Harvey Hall just prior to the Council awarding the contracts Wednesday night.

But, the city and SPCA have been partners in animal control before. That relationship ended 10 years ago. Sources familiar with the situation said a constant problem was over funding - the city was simply not paying enough money to SPCA to handle all of its assigned duties.

So what will be different now?

"This is a very different operation," said SPCA spokesman Chuck Nordstrom.

In the past, SPCA would facilitate all aspects of animal control for the city, including field services, which meant hiring animal control officers. And, all animals would be housed at SPCA on Gibson Street - not so under the new agreement.

Animal control officers will remain city employees under the Bakersfield Police Department. And, animals will be housed at the shelter at 201 S. Mt. Vernon Ave., which is the former site of Kern County Animal Control.

After the city kicked the county out of the property on Mt. Vernon, the county is in the process of relocating to a new site on Fruitvale Avenue.

"In addition to that, the city currently and will continue to operate field services separate from the shelter," said Steven Teglia, Bakersfield assistant city manager.

Teglia said the contract is based on the intake of 10,000 animals per year. There's also a provision in the contract that allows for making adjustments after evaluating the situation after six months. If the number of animals coming into the shelter are higher or lower than anticipated, then the budget will be adjusted accordingly.

Also new this time is the City Council awarding a separate contract for $210,000 to the Bakersfield Homeless Center. Nine clients from the homeless center will be hired to work at the new Bakersfield Animal Care Center.

The SPCA will start managing the new site Oct. 1.