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Manteca taxpayers continue to subsidize Lathrop dogs & cats

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POSTED June 24, 2010 2:27 a.m.
It’s animal cruelty - at least for Manteca dogs and cats as opposed to those from Lathrop.

It’s also a gross injustice for Manteca taxpayers.

Those are two ways to describe the laissez-faire attitude Manteca’s leadership has displayed concerning an injustice at the municipal animal shelter that they have been aware of now going back at least three years.

That injustice is the fact Lathrop’s stray pets account for 25 percent of the capacity of the animal shelter on Wetmore Street at any given time while that city pays for just 17 percent of the cost of operating shelter as part of their contract with Manteca.

It means that if Lathrop continually has 8 percent more capacity in the shelter than it pays for then Manteca strays that are picked up have a shorter life expectancy. Manteca - like most municipal animal control operations - is a kill shelter. Unclaimed animals are destroyed after a set amount of days. And if there is less capacity due to Lathrop overusing their contracted amount of shelter space, then dogs and cats in Manteca suffer.

One might argue it doesn’t matter where the stray pets are from if they can be saved. True, but that doesn’t address the issue as to why Manteca should continue to subsidize Lathrop.

As a Manteca resident you’d kind of hope someone would be sensitive to undercharging Lathrop for services that Manteca residents are then forced to subsidize with limited general fund dollars.

The matter was brought up once again during a budget session this week by Councilman Steve DeBrum. Again general comments were made that something should be done to rectify the situation when the contract is negotiated.

In other words, nothing will be done to correct an injustice being done to stray Manteca dogs and cats or Manteca taxpayers for that matter.

You think the council would be a little more sensitive given the fact a few years ago another contract with Lathrop - this time involving wastewater treatment capacity - was not being properly enforced at the expense of Manteca ratepayers. Manteca ultimately got a little over $1 million to cover Lathrop’s excess use over a number of years but ended up having to write off a significant amount of money owed.

Why not start with the obvious and simply refuse to accept more animals from Lathrop at any given time if unclaimed Lathrop pets are occupying 17 percent of the available space?

Or how about making it clear up front to policy makers that if Lathrop doesn’t pony up its share of running the animal shelter that Manteca will put Lathrop on notice that when the contract expires they can take their dogs and cats elsewhere.

That would virtually solve an acute problem at the Manteca animal shelter of not having enough room for unclaimed Manteca dogs and cats to have a fighting chance at being claimed or adopted. It would increase Manteca’s animal shelter capacity by 25 percent.

It is a solution that doesn’t need an expensive nexus cost analysis study.

At some point in the near future it also would be nice if the city addressed the annual shelter needs.

Since the corporation yard is being expanded on Wetmore Street, why not make plans to expand the shelter as well?

The office space is non-existent. Manteca could do what Turlock did a few years back and utilized a portable building such as classroom-style structures made at American Modular to serve as animal control offices. That would leave the need to expand kennels which could, for all practical purposes, simply be cinder block buildings.

Yes, it would be nice to have a fancy animal shelter but this is a city service that is about function not style.

The bottom line is simple. If Manteca’s elected leaders do indeed have the city’s best interests at heart they would act to correct the animal control shelter contract injustice now and not later.
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