The Board of Supervisors (BOS) disposed of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Dog Adoption Welfare Group (DAWG) on February 15, 2000 and replaced it with a new Resolution 00-69 governing relations between DAWG and the Santa Barbara Animal Shelter. Once the situation between DAWG and Animal Health and Regulation (AH&R) was resolved, the Grand Jury (GJ) turned its attention to the North County to investigate shelter conditions for the animals, staff and volunteers.



On site visits were made to the Lompoc Animal Shelter and the Santa Maria Animal Shelter. The GJ interviewed Supervisors, staff members and volunteers at both shelters. Additionally, the GJ interviewed the Director of AH&R and the Director of the Public Health Department (which provides oversight on AH&R).



Lompoc Animal Shelter

Upon a general inspection of the Lompoc facility the GJ noted that working conditions were crowded and space was limited. There is, however, a new modern indoor kennel with 12 dog runs which was near completion and seemed adequate for the near future. A new area has been added for bathing the animals and food storage. The building funds were principally raised by Companion Animal Placement Assistance (CAPA) when they matched a grant from DAWG and the Marguerite Doe Foundation. The balance of the funds was augmented by other privately donated funds.

Cats are housed in an area that was previously used as an office. Rabbits are housed in individual outside hutches. Additional housing for cats and rabbits is needed.

In 1988-1989 an Animal Control Officer (ACO) was removed from the Lompoc staff to oversee the Noise Abatement Dog Ordinance. This position has remained vacant since that time. A replacement ACO is urgently needed to cover outside field work. This addition would allow the supervisor more time to maintain the Lompoc Shelter properly.

The GJ was told by the CAPA volunteers and the Lompoc Shelter staff that they have had a good working relationship for many years. However, both staff and volunteers expressed a desire for a formal operational agreement.



Finding 4: Additional housing to accommodate cats and rabbits is needed.

Recommendation 4: Provisions in the 2000-2001 capital budget should allocate the necessary funds to cover this expenditure.

Finding 5: The Lompoc Shelter staff has been working one member short since 1988-1989.

Recommendation 5: The 2000-2001 capital budget should reflect additional funds for an Animal Control Officer at the Lompoc Animal Shelter.

Finding 6: There is no operational agreement between AH&R and CAPA volunteers covering the Lompoc Shelter.

Recommendation 6: An approved agreement is needed between AH&R and CAPA volunteers.



Santa Maria Animal Shelter

The Grand Jury made two visits to the Santa Maria Shelter to meet with the supervisor and staff. The physical conditions at the Santa Maria Shelter were found to be deplorable. The work place for the staff and volunteers is in a single run down dwelling. Staff and volunteers are forced to work in small multi-purpose rooms which are severely cramped and crowded.

The location, which is zoned commercial, is subject to an encroaching residential housing area. There have been numerous complaints from parishioners at a near-by church regarding dogs barking during Sunday service.

The animals appeared to be well cared for. However, it was noted by the GJ that some dog runs are covered with only a flimsy corrugated roof that was broken and missing in sections. To the GJ's observation some of the best cared for animals were the cats. They have the freedom to roam an inside room and an outside enclosed screened area.

The GJ learned that Santa Maria handles approximately 50 percent of the County's animal service calls. The GJ was dismayed to find that an excessive number of good adoptable animals are destroyed due to overcrowded conditions. It was reported to the GJ that many stray dogs belong to itinerant workers who move and abandon them. State law mandates that strays be kept six days before being destroyed. However, animals surrendered by owners are not covered by law and are usually held four days. Lack of space precludes many animals from being kept long enough to be adopted.

The 1998-1999 Activity Report shows that the number of dogs destroyed in Santa Maria was 915, Lompoc 429 and Santa Barbara 94. Cats destroyed in Santa Maria totaled 1171, Lompoc 356, and Santa Barbara 181. (See Figure 1 - Activity Report 1998-1999) A policy of County-wide shared Shelter resources would provide relief by enabling the Santa Maria Shelter to relocate some of their animals to the Lompoc and the Santa Barbara Shelters for adoption whenever space permits.

Besides the desperate lack of space, the Santa Maria Animal Shelter urgently needs the services of an additional Animal Control Officer (ACO) to cover the expanding demands in the fast growing North County. Volunteers are also needed and welcomed. Shelter Animal Volunteer Effort (SAVE) helps with fostering cats. There is, however, only one volunteer who regularly attends to the cats. Two or three other volunteers come in on a fairly regular basis while others appear only on the first and third Saturdays of the month.

In 1992, a combined study by a County Commission and the U.S. Humane Society determined that the Santa Maria Shelter was in poor condition. In 1993, the BOS approved, and the 1994-1995 Grand Jury recommended an AH&R Master Plan for building a new shelter in Santa Maria. However, no follow-up has been done in the ensuing years. The 1999-2000 Grand Jury was made aware of the existence of County-owned property that has been dedicated for a future Animal Shelter. The GJ feels that it is time for the Board of Supervisors to prioritize this need in their upcoming 2000 -2001 capital budget.



Dogs Received 1792 1261 2009 5062
Cats Received 1472 892 1673 4037
Misc. Received 848 219 189 1256
Total Animals
4119 2372 3871 10362
Dogs Redeemed 1002 399 521 1922
Dogs Adopted 600 365 419 1384
Dogs Fostered 59 52 16 127
Dogs Destroyed 94 429 915 1438
Cats Redeemed 89 40 53 182
Cats Adopted 1066 320 363 1749
Cats Fostered 107 153 162 422
Cats Destroyed 181 356 1171 1708
Misc. Animals
13 7 7 27
Misc. Animals
183 26 37 246
Misc. Animals
50 7 3 60
Misc. Animals
325 104 66 495
Animals Relocated 306 101 340 747
Injured Animal
47 122 216 385
Dead Animal
757 294 523 1574
340 262 535 1137
Service Calls 2998 3898 6892 13788
Night Calls 159 206 377 742
Gone On Arrivals 355 425 1110 1870
License Checks 443 334 733 1510
Total Miles Driven 52382 42938 55495 150815

Figure 1  Santa Barbara County Activity Report 1998-1999


[1] On April 10, 2000 Animal Health and Regulation became Animal Services