North Tahoe animal shelter to close if Truckee deal reached | SierraSun.com

North Tahoe animal shelter to close if Truckee deal reached

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

TAHOE VISTA, Calif. — The Tahoe Vista Animal Shelter will close its doors if an agreement is reached to house regional in-need animals in Truckee.

Officials with Placer County and the town of Truckee are discussing a partnership that would relocate operations from Tahoe Vista to the town of Truckee Animal Shelter at 10961 Stevens Lane.

"It would be better for the animals and the people," said Wesley Nicks, with the Placer County Health and Human Services Department. "… We're going to form a regional shelter, so to speak."

Benefits foreseen include improved animal health, increased adoption rate and cost savings, Nicks said.

The Truckee shelter has an advanced ventilation system to help reduce the spread of illness, greater separation of dogs to reduce stress and a veteran on staff, officials said.

"I do think it's a wonderful thing for the animals," said Stephanie Nistler, executive director of the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe. "We are so fortunate to live in this area where all of the people working on behalf of animals — whether nonprofit groups or county officials — just care about what's best for the animals. … Everybody's is in it for the right reason, and that's why I really support this partnership."

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The Truckee shelter opened September 2013 and is jointly operated by the Humane Society and the town of Truckee.

WHAT LIES AHEAD

The deal requires Placer County Board of Supervisors and Truckee Town Council approval. Placer supervisors could vote on the matter in December or January 2015, Nicks said.

Town council will be briefed at its Nov. 25 meeting, said Truckee Police Chief Adam McGill. It's unknown when the council would vote on a contract, should members advise staff to continue negotiations.

If either rejects the proposal, the 40-year-old Tahoe Vista Animal Shelter at 849 Shelter Road will remain open and "likely" operate as it does today for the foreseeable future, Nicks said.

Eventually, the aging Tahoe Vista shelter would need to be replaced, which could cost Placer County taxpayers between $2 million to $3 million, he said.

If the deal is approved, the county could shut down the Tahoe Vista shelter and begin operating out of Truckee in spring 2015.

Animals housed in Tahoe Vista would either be adopted by the Incline Village-based Wylie Animal Rescue Foundation, or transferred to the Truckee shelter or the county's shelter in Auburn, Nicks said.

Afterward, all eastern Placer County animals will be sheltered in Truckee.

"We are sad to no longer have a convenient local shelter for the residents of the North and West shore(s)," said Connie Nowlin, WARF co-founder and volunteer. "There certainly will be challenges geographically for the public to access lost pets and to adopt animals."

'BEST BANG FOR THEIR BUCK'

Nistler said she believes the 10,000-square-foot Truckee shelter has enough room house animals from eastern Placer County.

The Truckee shelter can hold up to 60 dogs, if some are puppies, and up to a 100 cats, if some are kittens, she said.

The 1,500-square-foot Tahoe Vista Shelter can house up to 12 dogs and 10 cats, and takes in about 160 animals annually, Nicks said.

Meanwhile, the kennel attendant position in the Tahoe Vista shelter would transfer to the Auburn shelter, Nicks said. Further, the two animal control officers based out of Tahoe Vista would transfer to Truckee, but still cover eastern Placer County.

Field service would increase, he said, when an additional supervising officer is hired as a result of cost savings to the county.

In terms of operational cost, it's estimated Placer County would save $100,000 annually, Nicks said.

Placer County would pay a fee to Truckee — an amount yet to be determined — to offset expenses accrued by the town through the partnership.

As a result, the town doesn't expect an increase in expenses, McGill said.

"It's just good governance," McGill said. "Regionalization is a best practice in government … We are give taxpayers the best bang for their buck that way."

'THE BEST FOR ANIMALS'

Despite potential benefits, locals have concerns over losing the Tahoe Vista shelter.

"We want the best for the animals," said Kindra Baker, a Truckee resident who adopted two dogs from the Tahoe Vista Animal Shelter.

She said she's concerned with response times of animal control officers to calls; the public lacking transportation or not wanting to travel extra miles to Truckee, and abandoning animals elsewhere; and losing a local point of contact to help match animals with families.

"A lot of (it) sound(s) great, but we don't know who will be held accountable if service isn't what they planned," Baker said.

McGill said the interest of the animals is what's driving this partnership.

"Folks in Placer County will have to travel farther, but the trade-off is animals are in a better environment," he said.

IF YOU GO

What: Squaw Valley Municipal Advisory Council meeting

Where: Squaw Valley Public Service District, 305 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley

When: 6 p.m., Dec. 4

—-

What: North Tahoe Regional Advisory Council

Where: Tahoe City Public Utility District, 221 Fairway Drive, Tahoe City

When: 6 p.m., Dec. 11

— Both meetings are informational on the future of the Tahoe Vista Animal Shelter, with an opportunity for public comment.