Rialto contracts animal shelter services with Riverside County; SB County rejects claims of inhumane treatment of animals

IECN photos courtesy RCDAS: Two Rialto strays held at the Riverside County Department of Animal Services - Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter located at 6851 Van Buren Blvd, (951) 358-PETS (7387), residents can also email shelterinfo@rivco.org for non-emergency matters. Left is a one-year-old tri-color Harrier male and the other a 3-year-old female Yorkshire Terrier.
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The City of Rialto has entered a three-year contract with Riverside County for animal shelter services effective July 1 through June 30, 2019, renewing automatically in one (1) year increments through June 30, 2021 at a price tag of $303,017 the first year. The amount is subject to change in subsequent years based on actual costs. Rialto and Riverside County reserve the right to terminate the agreement at any time upon 180-day advance written notice.

IECN photo courtesy RCDAS:
A 4-year-old Tabby held at RCDAS.

Rialto’s contract with San Bernardino County for shelter services at the Devore facility expired June 30; according to Interim Police Chief Mark Kling had the contract been extended the projected cost for the year would be $360,747.

“We’re always trying to look for an improvement of service, not to say that San Bernardino hasn’t been helpful for us, but I think it’s time to really look at what’s beneficial to our residents,” cited Kling during his presentation to city council on June 12 as the basis for switching to Riverside County. “The noticeable difference is the on-site vet services which is beneficial to us… And there is no charge for deceased animals that San Bernardino charges.”

Owner of Rialto Now Online News and concerned Rialto resident David Phillips rejects the switch as beneficial to residents, questions the lack of transparency, and counters that the savings to the city doesn’t warrant residents traveling double the distance to claim pets.

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“The problems that still exist are access to the animals for the Rialto population,” said Phillips, who emphasized, “The problem with this is that the change in shelter services was made without any public input.”

Rialto pets will be sheltered at the Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter, located at 6851 Van Buren Blvd., Jurupa Valley. A search on MapQuest from Eisenhower High to the shelter is 16.9 miles. It’s 8 miles from Eisenhower to the Devore facility.

According to John Welsh, spokesman for Riverside County Department of Animal Services (RCDAS), all animals brought to the facility will be assessed by the in-house veterinary team and put on a 72-hour hold.

In regards to rumors that RCDAS is poaching San Bernardino County cities to offset its budget deficit, Welsh confirmed they have never solicited contracts and those accusations are “ludicrous.”

“The cities come to us and we’re always willing to discuss our costs and desire to make the partnerships equitable and beneficial for each party,” Welsh explained. “We can only bill cities for services rendered.”

Welsh further explained how cities save a significant amount of money in personnel and equipment costs. If, for example, there is a horse hoarding case in Rialto, RCDAS would provide the necessary personnel to investigate, seek seizure warrants, bring in a trailer with the vet team to assess each horse and bring those horses to the shelter to care for them at no extra cost to Rialto.

Other cities that contract with RCDAS are Fontana, Colton, and Grand Terrace.

Halfway through the presentation Mayor Pro Tem Ed Scott and Councilmembers Joe Baca Jr. and Andy Carrizales commented on how they looked forward to Rialto pets being treated humanely under the care of RCDAS.

“I think it’s sad that San Bernardino County doesn’t have a similar attitude about animals…” said Scott.

Greg Beck, program manager of San Bernardino County Animal Care & Control, remarked that although the county can’t control the negative narrative surrounding the Devore Animal Shelter, the treatment of animals can be controlled.

“We don’t allow any maltreatment (of animals) from our staff, we have protocols and practices in place. Claims that we treat our animals inhumanely are false,” Beck asserted.

The negative narrative about the Devore shelter’s substandard conditions was created eight years ago by a woman who felt it would be an impactful way to spur people to adopt animals from the facility, explained Beck.

“It was a call to action, and it did increase the number of adoptions and the number of rescue groups in the community to help with placement,” he added.

Live Release Rates for FY 2017-18 (percentage of animals leaving the shelter alive through adoption, return to owner, or transfer of care):

 San Bernardino County                    Riverside County

Dogs:      89.7%                                        83%

Cats:       62.4%                                        60%

Statistics provided by Beck and Welsh.

$10 million has been set aside for a new animal shelter in San Bernardino County. Beck indicated the size and scope are yet to be determined dependent on the number of partners and participating cities.

Residents can search for lost pets at www.rcdas.org, call (951) 358-PETS (7387) and for non-emergency matters email shelterinfo@rivco.org.

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