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New plan for animal shelter concerns city workers

Original post made on Sep 7, 2016

As Palo Alto braces for the next chapter for its aged but popular animal shelter, city workers who staff the East Bayshore Road facility are increasingly wondering what role -- if any -- they'll get to play.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, September 7, 2016, 2:19 AM

Comments (26)

Posted by Miriam Palm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 7, 2016 at 10:35 am

Miriam Palm is a registered user.

Don't let this opportunity slip away. We could lose our shelter entirely, and that is an outcome that no one desires. The city has already decided it cannot (or will not) fully support the shelter, so they have wisely looked for a partner.

Posted by Be Positive
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 7, 2016 at 10:57 am

Be Positive is a registered user.

Pets In Need is a wonderful organization and partnering with them is a terrific thing for our City. As a non-profit, they will be able to solicit donations for upgrading the facility.

Posted by JJ
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 7, 2016 at 11:02 am

According to Maddie's Fund searchable database (Web Link at the right bottom corner there is a table called Shelter Insights where you will find: in 2014 Palo Alto Animal Services took in 544 dogs and cats, and how many had been "put to sleep"? 128.

It is about time to let go the existing shelter and its workers.

Posted by James
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2016 at 11:14 am

I came to Palo Alto in 1948 and as a kid often visited the old shelter on El Camino. Over the years I always thought Palo Alto an outstanding community with a civic interest in local control and services. I don't quite understand who would own the building and any addition, but generally I'd rather see the City Council keep this city as locally run operation responsible to its' residents.

Posted by Animal lover
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 7, 2016 at 11:51 am

While the animal control officers who work the streets are excellent, many of the current shelter workers are not. They could do so much more to get animals adopted in our community. They do little to nothing to get the word out about animals that have been in the shelter. They don't allow people to foster animals, which is one of the most effective ways to get dogs and cats adopted. They are not welcoming to people who want to volunteer and the dogs are left most of the day in these miserable cages. They say they have too many volunteers, but I have visited the shelter many, many times and the dogs are stuck in these cages almost all day and only taken out for brief walks. In a town like Palo Alto, they could have volunteers there most of the day socializing the dogs. If you look at the website for available animals right now, there is almost no information about the dogs, their temperament or what they are like. Compare that to any other animal shelter, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara -- all of them write up very cute appealing profiles of their animals. How much work would it take for the folks at the Palo Alto shelter to put some effort into marketing these dogs? As a result, people who go online to see what kind of dogs or cats they might adopt will not even bother to go to the Palo Alto shelter. So the animals end up staying there far longer than they need to be. The indifference the shelter staff has to getting these animals adopted has been an ongoing source of frustration for so many of us in Palo Alto for years. I know Pets in Need will do so much better by the animals. The staff there have had long enough to improve the shelter and they have failed. Time to move on.

Posted by Mama
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 7, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Leave it to SEIU to bad mouth a good organization. High union costs are probably part of the problem.

Posted by Carol Gilbert
a resident of University South
on Sep 7, 2016 at 12:18 pm

Either the city ponies up (as they should) and funds the animal shelter, or we take on Pets In Need. I think the resistance is more one of city jobs than animal care. So be it. Too bad CPA doesn't value its animals more.

Posted by They Lie
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2016 at 12:19 pm

They Lie is a registered user.

I can't tell you how many times the public is told that the PA Animal Shelter is a true shelter, a no-kill shelter, but it is simply untrue.

My son, his friend, and two of my students in their high school years volunteered at the "shelter". They were shocked to learn that this no-kill shelter was euthanizing about one out of three animals there! One of my students tearfully told me that on one occasion there were euthanized Labradors and German Shepherds on the floor, and no one even removed them before bringing in another dog to be killed!

No wonder they have a hard time keeping volunteers! All four of these kids, aforementioned, had quit within a month!

Pets In Need will make SURE that the shelter is indeed a no-kill facility!

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 7, 2016 at 12:54 pm

Pets In Need has never earned my respect due to their underhanded means of operation. But I'm not surprised that they responded to the RFP, while other agencies weren't interested in responding.

Posted by solon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 7, 2016 at 1:10 pm


city staff members have been very rude to questions

city staff would not agree to notify if a found and surrendered
hadnot been adopted out,so you could come and provide a home your self

when staff DID promise a dog at least would not be put down for SEVEN days,
when i returned from Christmas on fifth day, dog i would have adopted -- and so told the staff on surrender -- was killed on FIFTH day


also, "test for agression" --this a large white dog i found just before Christmas travel on the road -- and slept in my room with me without incident -- the city staff toldf me the test was, they brought in a "volunteer" who then suddenly entered the dogs cage, where it was confined without human companionship for five days and nights, surrounded by dogs of course, and then if the dog "growled" or "barked" at the volunteer, the dog was "agressive" and killed.


the palo alto government staff can not manage an animal shelter.


plenty of other jobs for the staff members who are otherwise competent.

shelter has expired.

Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 7, 2016 at 1:25 pm

Finally the animal shelter will be forced to stop killing animals. [Portion removed.]

Posted by Curt RomNSWE
a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2016 at 3:36 pm

This discussion, from both sides, is very interesting to me. I am a co-founder of a non-profit that contracts with Nevada County to operate the County Animal Shelter. We have been under contract for 6 years and have succeeded in reducing the euthanasia rate to less than 1% (actually 0.5% in 2015). We had to lobby long and hard to get the County to agree to let us run their shelter, but now they wouldn't take back operation under any circumstance outside of us opting out of our contract. The community is unbelievably supportive of our operation. The County provides about half of the operating expense of the shelter while the other half comes from individual donations and a sizable contribution from our thrift store. Grants are also solicited. It is notable that the largest single expense we have is for medical care of the animals which is necessary to treat many of the animals that come to the shelter with all sorts of injuries, illnesses and medical problems. The county never provided any significant medical care since most of the animals were euthanized within a week or so. Also, our volunteers are indispensable walking dogs twice a day, every day, and working with the cats to socialize them. It takes a whole community to accomplish this. Good Luck with your operation. We will be looking in on you.

Posted by Cynthia
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2016 at 5:42 pm

Hi Curt - Thanks for your comment. I believe the city staff would welcome your input on how you structured the contract. The lead city executive on the project is Cash Alaee. Would you mind reaching out to him? Thank you.

Posted by Maher
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 7, 2016 at 8:27 pm

Pets in Need is an exemplary organization. The lame point that PIN is the only option seems to imply that's a bad thing?! "Pets in Need, a Redwood City-based agency that prides itself on being northern California's first "no-kill" shelter, was the obvious choice in large part because it was the only choice."

Why is it that this story is written as a disappointment rather than as a blessing. Here we are, lucky enough to have an honorable outfit ready to step up and provide the service we need. And that's not a good thing?

Competition is not really necessary to arrive at an excellent result. That's a false argument... often the competitors are truly the lesser of evils.

Not this time.

Posted by Balto
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 7, 2016 at 9:21 pm

Pet in Need does what has become popular... HIGH adoption fee, PLUS deposit for dog training lessons. Never a bad thing to get your dog some training, but it doesn't always stick, especially if the owner doesn't actively keep it up.

In the end you're talking $225 to adopt a dog. Which makes backyard breeders and east bay shelters with lower costs a LOT more appealing.

Posted by Cynthia
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2016 at 10:41 pm

Here are a couple tweets with photos from the city council meeting.

Web Link

Web Link

Posted by Cynthia
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2016 at 10:43 pm

Last tweet taken after the vote

Web Link

Posted by fire the City Employees
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 7, 2016 at 11:03 pm

Stop with the full retirement benefits, stop with the full health benefits with no copy, do like the rest of us, work for the private companies, 401K for benefits is just fine. Every time I hear a union boss talk I feel the big government inflated with public jobs.

Posted by Henry George
a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2016 at 8:10 am

It's disgusting that this "no-kill" shelter admits to hoarding animals in its facility for SEVEN YEARS. That's no life for any animal, and I consider it absolute abuse. Is that what the city wants--animals hoarded for years on end and taxpayers funding their abuse? "No-kill" is a scam and a sham, and such policies result in animals being turned away from full shelters or hoarded for life in cages and cruel conditions. Some "no-kill" policies include dumping unadopted cats on the streets, where they die horrible deaths and create a nuisance and heartache for taxpayers. The city shouldn't waste funds on an experiment that's sure to fail. Euthanasia is sad, but it isn't cruel and is a mercy for many animals whose only other options are going insane in a cage, being tossed around from foster home to foster home and never knowing stability, or being dumped on the streets to die painfully and afraid there instead. Be smart, be humane.

Posted by Big Concern
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2016 at 1:15 pm

One of my concerns--a major one-- is the hygiene and cleanliness of the Spay/Neuter Clinic.

Our pup came home from being neutered with the acquisition of ear mites! He didn't have them when he went in, definitely had them the day after the procedure.

Took three months of expensive treatments to get ride of ear lice. I spent far more money correcting that problem than I saved on the so-called " low cost " neutering!

Posted by Another Concern
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2016 at 1:35 pm

I have concerns about the quality of the veterinarians used at the current shelter for emergency care and the Spay-Neuter Clinic.

Our Lab was picked up by Animal Services after the Palo Alto Utilities meter reader failed to close our back gate properly. My dog was hit on El Camino, his leg broken in two places.

He had on a collar, yet no one called us, and WORSE, because the broken bones had broken through the flesh, he developed a bone infection. This was due to the fact that no one cleaned his wounds or treated the broken leg when he arrived at the shelter.

When we finally located my dog, he was filthy. My own vet tried to save the leg, but the infection in the bone caused repeated abscesses, and eventually necessitated amputation.

Hopefully, this poor quality of veterinary care will be a thing of the past if PIN takes over!

Posted by It Gets Worse
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 9, 2016 at 6:12 pm

I took my puppy to have her spayed at the shelter, because our usual vet said that there was no way he could sterilize an animal for the price the low cost Spay and Neuter Clinic charged.

My dog was seven months old, and had been well- housebroken since ten weeks, but after being spayed, she started dripping urine. I called the shelter, but they denied fault, saying that this often happens after general anesthesia.

Two months later, the leakage--not intentional urination--had worsened, so I took her to our regular vet, thinking she had gotten a bladder infection.

The urine tests came back negative, and after an exam and MRI ($$$) with a specialist, it was made obvious that the veterinarian at the shelter had been too rough in removing my dog's uterus-- and damaged not only her bladder but also the urethra, making her incontinent at less than one year of age!

The fix for this is a hormone called DES, which restores tone to the bladder and urethra. Eventually, as she ages, my dog may need reparative surgery. Until then, I am spending $90/month for her medication!

The shelter has refused to take responsibility, despite letters from the other vets as well as an attorney. They will not agree to return my spay fees or cover the costs of the tests and MRIs necessary to diagnose what happened. They continue to deny fault to this day, 7 years later!

Posted by Short Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2016 at 9:08 am

Doesn't anyone remember the recent story of Bubba, the little dog whose owner could no longer keep her?

Her owner's husband had deserted her, and she could not find a place to live that would allow dogs. Bubba's owner had no choice, and surrendered her to the shelter, asking them to call if they could not find her a home--please don't kill her. She left her phone numbers and said she would come and get her if she could not be re-homed.

Basically, the shelter euthanized Bubba before her owner could even get there to retrieve her.

Posted by marlon
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 15, 2016 at 10:31 am

The city budget will down in 2017. That's what I heard. Some part time employees might get layout. Now, I don't think the city should keep the shelter open But also if you look around there is a lots of place to save money. One example is parks, city has parks personal, park rangers and contracts out with california Land scape management to patrol,clean and close the baylands preserve.The Rangers could do it at all. It's waste of money having all these resources doing the same work. To me the city managers, council personal don't know or don't care much.

Posted by steve
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Dec 15, 2016 at 10:46 am

Well, marlon I agreed with you. I walk my dog at baylands and I'v seen those CLM rangers cleaning around and usually I don't see the city rangers around. I think the city manager doesn't want to keep the shelter open and don't look around to see where money could be saved. Too bad the PA has such a bad manager.

Posted by Jeremy Robinson
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 15, 2016 at 11:59 am

State of the Art Animal Shelter management has undergone a sea change in the past decades. No longer can a few well intentioned, hard working people be expected to run an efficient, humane facility. We have moved long past that. For the City to bring our present shelter up to national standards would require an intense effort and an unspeakable amount of money. How brilliant is it that Pets In Need, a non profit that has run an exemplary facility for 51 years has been willing to share this burden!

For the past four years our City Manager's Office has spent many hundreds of hours working with all the interested parties and stakeholders to arrive at a solution to the growing problem of our sadly inadequate animal shelter facility. They have examined every feasible option to keeping the shelter under City management and it is simply not an option. We are grateful for the dedication of Jim Keene and his staff in doggedly pursuing the best possible course for our Animal Shelter.

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