News


Animal shelter is not closing, Palo Alto officials say

Plans moving ahead to find an operator for animal services and fundraise for a new facility

A website petition claiming that Palo Alto plans to close its animal shelter prompted city officials to issue a press release this week denying the accusation.

The petition, which was posted by Karen Ewart on the website www.change.org, claimed that the city wants to close the shelter to make way for retail businesses along the prime frontage to U.S. Highway 101. So far 3,988 people have signed the petition, according to the website.

"We are about to lose our 121-year-old animal shelter for yet another sacrifice to the almighty dollar which will benefit few and harm many. The Palo Alto Animal Shelter is an invaluable community asset. ... We have amazing animal services, and we should not lose the shelter to more expansion of business and retail," Ewart wrote. "The time to fight back is now. Palo Alto City Manager James Keene is hell bent on destroying the shelter and replacing it with (a car dealership). He is counting on the people of Palo Alto not taking notice while he completes this ignoble action.

"... The Palo Alto Animal Shelter is a community treasure, and in the second wealthiest city in the country, surely there is a way to keep it where it is and viable for a good many years to come."

Some residents have expressed concern that the city has been eroding the animal services site by slowly ceding its use to business interests. The city began leasing part of the shelter's land to Anderson Honda in January to park stored vehicles.

City officials and animal group supporters have denied Ewart's assertions.

"This is blatantly untrue, threatens to undermine the progress made to date to find a new service provider, and is a disservice to the community who has received this incorrect information about the future of the Animal Shelter," city officials said in a press release.

For the past year, the city has been working collaboratively with the Friends of Palo Alto Animal Shelter, the Palo Alto Humane Society and other local stakeholders to identify a new service model for the operation of the city's animal shelter, city officials said.

"It is really unfortunate that the community has been given this misinformation about the closure of the shelter. We look forward to continuing our collaborative partnership with the city, and finding a future service provider that can help to fulfill the mission of our community shelter," Scottie Zimmerman, president of the Friends of Palo Alto Animal Shelter, said in the joint statement with the city.

Ewart said she posted the petition after a city whistleblower expressed concern to her that the long-term effect of the city's plan will result in failure. The nonprofit animal groups, although well meaning, don't have the physical capability to take over the shelter's operations, which will ultimately doom the transfer to failure, she said.

She posted the petition based on her source's concerns and to protect that person's identity. Ewart said she is surprised by the response, which has included several phone calls to her home.

"I never said that the shelter was going to close tomorrow," she said in a phone interview on Saturday.

She said she only intended to gather the signatures and present them before the City Council to emphasize the community's desire to keep the shelter open and at its present location.

The city's response, saying the petition threatens to undermine the progress, is "over the top," Ewart added.

The city has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for animal services, which solicits nonprofits or private animal service providers to operate the shelter. The city would retain animal control services and keep the current shelter location in Palo Alto. The city is seeking a provider for shelter operations and clinic services at the site.

Friends of the Palo Alto Animal Shelter, Palo Alto Humane Society, and persons with a strong interest in animal care helped develop the RFP, the city noted. The collaboration would potentially increase animal adoptions and fundraise to build a brand new shelter.

The RFP was developed after a series of community meetings on the future of the city's animal services and an audit that made recommendations. On June 8, the Palo Alto City Council directed staff to conduct a review of alternatives for animal services.

Carole Hyde, president of the Palo Alto Humane Society, also said she supported the city's efforts, in the joint statement.

"We are eager to review the results of the RFP and work with the City of Palo Alto to find the best service model that will support our continuing community education outreach efforts, after-school activities and targeted veterinary funding needs."

Comments

16 people like this
Posted by Humble observer
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2015 at 3:00 pm

"I never said that the shelter was going to close tomorrow" [Ewart is quoted as saying]

But that's not the problem, at all The problem is that this petition's premises are "blatantly untrue" according to the City, and "unfortunate ... misinformation" according to Friends of Palo Alto Animal Shelter. Ewart herself acknowledges above that speculations by an unnamed informant prompted the petition, to which she then adds her own speculative assertions about Keene's thoughts and plans. (Talk about "over the top!")

Time to stop this abuse of a petition site, admit a mistake, and take it down.


23 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 18, 2015 at 8:29 am

I have to say I don't trust the city manager's intentions, so I'm fine with her having forced the issue here. The petition makes clear how the citizens feel about this. He's been wanting car dealerships over there forever, and the RFP could be a process to nowhere, who knows. I don't doubt that the nonprofits are pursuing this in good faith. This is the same guy who brought you the shady almost land give away to the wealthy. He's not out for the residents, even though we pay his salary.


14 people like this
Posted by Ysk
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 18, 2015 at 11:27 pm

If the city was telling the truth about working with the Humane Society, why was a petition posted just a mere 7 months ago by a person on the board of directors of the Humane Society begging that the shelter be saved?

The city of Palo Alto has told a few too many tall tales of late. Rest assured this shelter is in jeopardy and if you care about it you should speak up and let the City Council know.


9 people like this
Posted by Ysk
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 18, 2015 at 11:46 pm

Check out the story from Palo Alto online itself. It shows that the Honda dealer has been coveting that lands at the animal shelter is on for quite some time.

Web Link


15 people like this
Posted by Ysk
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 19, 2015 at 12:03 am

Here is the link from the woman who works for the Humane Society on the board of directors that she posted a mere 7 months ago begging the residents of Palo Alto to sign her petition to keep the animal shelter. [Portion removed.]

Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 19, 2015 at 1:06 pm

Everything I saw on the Facebook page directly contradicts what the city is saying. The articles back up the claims. I think the city just wants this issue to go away.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 19, 2015 at 8:53 pm

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 19, 2015 at 10:29 pm

Why not wait for the results of the RFP? There may be good organizations who want to get involved. It looks like FOPAAS has been working well with the city and other stakeholders on this issue. [Portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Ysk
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 19, 2015 at 10:40 pm

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 20, 2015 at 11:59 am

Humble Observer, I appreciate your comments. A petition lacking facts is not useful and only serves as a distraction. [Portion removed.]

There are so many animal shelters modeling thoughtful innovation, and that seems to be what is wanted by the residents who value this shelter. How can a small police department be responsible for instigating thoughtful innovation? Hopefully a reputable operator will be interested in taking it on. PAAS is awkwardly situated, geographically, between several other progressive shelters. But those shelters are too far away to be of the immediate assistance required these days with rapid urbanization, human encroachment on wildlife, the out of control feral cat problem and the popularity of pet ownership.


4 people like this
Posted by enough!
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 20, 2015 at 2:06 pm

[Portion removed.]

If you really read the petition, you would see that the petition was done on behalf of a whistle blower, one who couldn't speak out for fear of losing his job or public censure. Most people know that City governments operate largely in secret, and that the people who know those secrets, are the people who work within that structure.

If you have something that contradicts what was said in the petition, why not simply post that information [portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 20, 2015 at 2:31 pm

[Portion removed.] There are better ways to obtain transparency and accountability from the city than via a petition that serves as a distraction. Why not work with FOPAAS to make your voice heard, or organize a different group to better obtain facts and get involved in a way that shows the city you are not merely sitting by the sidelines?


2 people like this
Posted by Karen Ewart
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 20, 2015 at 2:47 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


1 person likes this
Posted by 5th Generation
a resident of Mayfield
on Oct 20, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Believe me, we're getting involved. The petition is just a start.


7 people like this
Posted by Gorillas
a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2015 at 2:52 pm

I happen to know the poster and some of the others behind the petition and know for a fact that they are truthful and upstanding people who feel strongly for this cause.


1 person likes this
Posted by Karen Ewart
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 20, 2015 at 2:56 pm

To anybody who is actually interested in full disclosure, go to the Our Town Palo Alto and read the comments. You'll learn all.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 20, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Karen - [Portion removed.] So, what are the facts and how do you best see fit to use the petition once you have enough signatures? I thank you in advance.


Like this comment
Posted by Karen Ewart
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 20, 2015 at 3:44 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Karen Ewart
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 20, 2015 at 3:51 pm

[Portion removed.] My whole goal was to let the City Council know that we care about our animal shelter and will do what it takes to keep it. Anything further than that, is something you are trying to create and in doing so, showing your level of malevolence.


Like this comment
Posted by 5th Generation
a resident of Mayfield
on Oct 20, 2015 at 3:53 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 20, 2015 at 4:07 pm

Karen - [Portion removed.] You are a local public figure because you authored this petition, and that means the public can question the veracity of your claims and your judgement. I am not a supporter of the city. After all, it is your city which gave my county its current sheriff and undersheriff. Need I say more? So here are my questions [portion removed]:

It is understandable that you do not trust the city, but what about Scottie Zimmerman and the group she is involved with?

What is it about the RFPs and the process of choosing an operator that do you not trust or think is a good idea?

How does this petition actually protect the "whistleblower"?

What, if any, is the vision you and your cohort hold for PAAS?


2 people like this
Posted by Scottie Zimmerman
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 20, 2015 at 11:01 pm

I do not see malevolence in the petition or the energetic discussion that is happening here and elsewhere. I think it is appropriate to assume that parties in the discussion care deeply about the future of the shelter and the valuable service it provides to Palo Alto, Los Altos, and Los Altos Hills. All good.

The wording of the petition is entirely positive about the shelter and its value to us and our animals. The only parts I disagree with are the statements that the City has a secret plan to close the shelter and find a commercial customer to take over the space. I do not think that is on the agenda. Yet there are others who disagree and believe the future is bleak for the shelter.

The City has published an RFP in hope of finding a nonprofit agency with stellar experience in shelter management who can take over the daily operation of animal services in Palo Alto. The RFP process takes time, and we will not have results decided until January 2016? Friends of the Palo Alto Animal Shelter and the Palo Alto Humane Society (who worked on the RFP) are optimistic that the results should please all of us who love the shelter.

COMMENT re: Our Town of Palo Alto on Facebook. I understand that a lively discussion has happened there, but it is a closed discussion. That is perfectly legitimate, however, as a non-member of the approved friends of Our Town, I cannot read or respond to the discussion there. I mention this only because one message in this string encourages us to see what people are saying on Our Town.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2015 at 4:08 pm

What have the responses to the RFP been?


2 people like this
Posted by Scottie Zimmerman
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2015 at 4:24 pm

Hi Hmmm, As far as I know there have been no responses yet. Respondents are allowed 60 days to reply. The responses are due by 3:00 p.m. on December 11, 2015. Also, respondents can contact City Hall if they have specific questions about wording/meaning in the RFP. The key person who worked with us on the RFP, Khashayar "Cash" Alaee (Senior Management Analyst on City Staff) has been in Japan on a special exchange project. He's the primary contact for RFP questions & results. He's back now, and I'll try to get information about any "bids" on the RFP.

After December 11, a stakeholders group reviews submitted RFPs, and there may be interviews with respondents. At some point the finalist(s) is/are selected and presented to the City Council at a meeting open to the public. We want to hear from our community (inclusing Los Altos and Los Altos Hills about their feedback on the winning proposals. The aim is to be transparent.


Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 3, 2015 at 6:05 pm

It is hard to read the posts when so much has been removed. If there is no profanity or ad hominem attacks, why are comments being removed? It would be wonderful to allow us to read the posts intact, obviously understanding that they are simply views of the various commenters. This is an important topic and I'd very much like to read everyone's full comments.


Like this comment
Posted by dennis
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2016 at 10:17 pm

Time to let go of it! This issue about this shelter has been going on and on and on for several years now PLEASE LET IT GO. JUST CLOSE IT AND THATS IT. Sunnyvale is doing great without a shelter, just keep 2 animal service officers running around Palo Alto picking dead squirrels. Cause thats what they do in Palo Alto.


4 people like this
Posted by Magna
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 6, 2016 at 10:37 pm

Well Nora, If you are in favor of closing the shelter your post is most likely to be removed. Cause I posted a negative review about the shelter and it got removed in 10 minutes. I live in PA Hills and usually I drive on Page Mills Rd. A month back on a Sunday I was driving up to the Foothills Park and I spotted two dead raccoons, and a small fawn on Page Mills. At Foothills Park I spoke with a Ranger about it, the Ranger told me that Animal Service had been notified of the dead animals the day before "Saturday "BUT so far no one had come up yet. So, my views on the animal control officers is negative. I used the shelter for vaccination and costumer service is not so good. Sorry my english I am originally from Iceland.


4 people like this
Posted by Tony
a resident of Los Altos
on Oct 7, 2016 at 4:15 pm

I vote to close it. It is time to make a move and to make changes. The animals will be fine with another organization taking over. I think most people know that, but most of them posting here are dog walkers or shelter volunteers. My neighbor is or was a volunteer at the shelter I told her that i had a bad costumer service at the shelter. She flipped out on me, defending the employee who gave me a terrible costumer service. So, that is the reason i believe it is time to make a move. Bring something new, fresh, differ to Los Altos.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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