During the joint special meeting of the Mayor and City Council on Monday, Feb. 11, city staff presented several options in regards to the animal shelter that include rebuilding the existing 50-year-old facility that does not meet modern shelter standards, constructing a new facility, repurposing an existing building, entering a Joint Powers Authority, or contracting with the Riverside County Department of Animal Control Services.
Dozens of residents took to the podium to express their discontent with the conditions of the shelter that has fallen into disrepair from years of neglect, and to reject the option of outsourcing to Riverside.
“The underlying message is, regardless of the politics, we need to do the right thing, we need to make certain that the shelter is adequate enough to keep those animals safe,” said Animal Control Commissioner Angela Halfman. “And after all these years it is still a crumbling, leaking inadequate facility. Something should have been done a long time ago.”
Council person Sandra Ibarra made a motion to start an RFP (Request for Proposal) for shelter operations and to relieve the Police Department from the oversight of the shelter, seconded by Councilman Henry Nickel. The motion passed 4-2 with Teddy Sanchez and Jim Mulvihill voting against the motion.
“This is an opportunity to start fresh, fix the errors of the past… to make San Bernardino a world-class city,” Nickel indicated. “The treatment of animals is an indication of how we’re doing.”
Staff will return with an RFP proposal that explores opportunities for operations and collaboration with rescue and volunteer groups, as well as options for a temporary fixture for shelter animals while the process is underway, and a strategy for relieving the Police Department from oversight of the shelter.