A proposal to rebuild and greatly expand Palo Alto's aged animal-services center got off to a promising start Monday night when the City Council quickly and unanimously forwarded the idea to its Finance Committee for review.
The idea was proposed by the Palo Alto Humane Society, which would partner with the city on providing the expanded animal services. The organization opened the city's first animal shelter in 1927 and managed it until 1972, when the city took over its operations. Now, the Humane Society is offering to help the city build a new "state-of-the-art animal services center" with services such as dog training, an education center and a wellness clinic, according to the proposal submitted by the group's executive director, Carole Hyde.
The idea has attracted the attention of council members Marc Berman, Karen Holman, Larry Klein and Greg Schmid, who in a memo last week urged the council to send the proposal to one of its committees for a "prompt review."
"There is a strong interest from the non-profit animal care community in partnering with the City to ensure the long-term viability and success of Palo Alto Animal Services," the memo states. "In addition, several current and near-term operational challenges, including declining revenues and pending key staff retirements, have created a need to explore immediate solutions for a shelter management partnership with possible partners."
The existing animal center's future has been in jeopardy since 2012, when Mountain View announced its decision to drop out of its partnership in the East Bayshore Road facility, leaving an annual funding gap of about $450,000. Staff had proposed closing the facility and outsourcing animal services before reconsidering the decision in the face of major community opposition.
The council was scheduled to discuss the memo and the Human Society's offer on Monday night, but faced with a long agenda that included the city budget, possible ballot measures and a new electric-vehicle ordinance, members kept the conversation minimal. They heard from a few members of the public, including shelter volunteer Scottie Zimmerman, who urged the council to improve the city's animal shelter and to expand the services it provides.
Hyde also addressed the council and thanked members for promptly forwarding the proposal to the Finance Committee. The facility, according to her proposal, would cost $10 million to $12 million. The Humane Society would raise the money and manage many of its programs, while the city would provide the land and remain responsible for animal control.
The Humane Society, she said, has the vision, expertise and capacity to create a new shelter. The city, meanwhile, has the know-how and funding for animal control. Together, she said, her organization and the city can build a "modern animal services center."
"We will hope to go into discussions with the city and come back to you with a detailed proposal for your consideration," Hyde said.