Petition proposes no-kill animal shelter in Santa Clarita

In May 2015, Santa Clarita resident Kiza Hilton informally proposed a no-kill animal shelter to be operated by the City of Santa Clarita.

She said city council members she approached at the time told her to put her efforts elsewhere.

“It was disheartening,” Hilton said. “I have invested hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours of my time developing [the proposal].”

Now, nearly seven years later, Hilton is once again gearing up to discuss with city council members the proposal for a city-run animal shelter, but this time with additional support from community members. .

A petition to encourage members of the Santa Clarita City Council to open a new animal shelter was started by Saugus resident Jordan A. Roberts-Diem, who is also the administrator of “Everything Pets In SCV”, a Facebook group whose the mission is to help the community with anything. related to pets, including finding new pet homes and answering all questions about pets and pet owners.

Currently, the only government-run animal shelter in the Santa Clarita Valley is the LA County Shelter in Castaic.

Roberts-Diem said she rescued many pets, including some disabled or injured that she said would be “tagged unadoptable by the county.”

“I see the need [for another shelter] because every day people beg me to take in cats, bottle feed kittens and bring dogs home,” Roberts-Diem said.

Photo courtesy of Richard Hilton

Hilton and her husband Richard volunteered their time to work with the seven animal protection and control shelters in Los Angeles County, but were more involved with the Castaic site in particular.

She has launched several fundraisers and has worked closely with the Castaic animal care center for six years. Now she and her husband are looking for possible buildings to buy to turn them into an animal shelter.

“We would actually buy the property or the building,” Hilton said. “However, before that can happen, we need to have the go-ahead from the Santa Clarita council members.”

Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste and Pro Tem Mayor Jason Gibbs said they plan to meet with Hilton in the near future to discuss the details of her proposal.

“As a city, we’ll look at what she has to say and see if that’s something we can do,” Weste said of Hilton’s proposal.

Gibbs said he would like to understand everything the project might entail, such as possible locations, operating costs and overall community benefits.

“We have to get into the details of something like that,” Gibbs said. “I think it will be much more complicated than building a building and caring for the animals ourselves.”

Ten-year-old Labrador Retriever at the Los Angeles County Animal Care Center in Castaic on Wednesday. 093015

One of the main motivating factors behind Hilton and Robert-Diem’s ​​proposal for a no-kill animal shelter is the euthanasia rate at the Castaic location.

Roberts-Diem said the Castaic shelter is small, with only one row of dog kennels, and “they have no choice but to euthanize the animals” due to overcrowding.

The petition states that the euthanasia rate for the Castaic Animal Care Center over the past seven months is 32%, which Roberts-Diem says is higher than “other shelters in County Downey, Carson, Baldwin Park, Lancaster, Agoura and Pamdale”.

According to Marcia Mayeda, director of Animal Care and Control for Los Angeles County, this statistic is “misinterpreted” and “misleading.”

the county statistics as of fiscal year 2020-2021 show that the Castaic Animal Care Center euthanized a total of 587 animals, representing 39% of all animal results.

The categories consist of cats and dogs, but also include a category called “other”, which includes “a large number of game birds that have been seized” and “are illegal to possess and not adoptable”.

“Castaic has handled many gamecocks that have been euthanized,” Mayeda said in an email. “‘Other’ animals that have been euthanized reject raw total percentages, which is why it’s important to look at dogs and cats separately.”

According to county dataCastaic euthanized 46 out of 572 rescued dogs, representing an 8% euthanasia rate, and 51 out of 278 rescued cats, representing an 18% euthanasia rate.

Mayeda also said that the Castaic site had euthanized fewer dogs and cats than all other animal care centers except the Agoura site because they housed “a lot fewer animals, which explains why they had less to euthanize”.

“I think it misleads the public when they think about having their own animal shelter,” Mayeda said. “They don’t imagine thousands of fighting roosters and injured wild animals. Most people think of dogs and cats, and perhaps small pets like rabbits and guinea pigs.

In response to Roberts-Diem and Hilton’s overcrowding allegations, Mayeda said there was no overcrowding issue at the Castaic shelter.

“They actually accept dogs transferred from our Palmdale [Animal Care Center] when it is full,” Mayeda said in an email.

Roberts-Diem said Mayeda’s fiscal year numbers are correct but do not explain why the rate of euthanasia at the Castaic shelter over the past six months is approaching last year’s total number.

According to county statisticsthe Castaic shelter euthanized 50 dogs and 36 cats from July 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021, compared to a total of 46 dogs and 51 cats from Previous exercice.

“Yeah, she was right about last year,” Roberts-Diem said. “But in the last six months, that’s not the case.”

The city of Santa Clarita is the third largest city in LA County and one of the fastest growing cities in the state of California, according to 2020 census data. Hilton said the city should consider additional shelter due to its growing population and abundance of various community areas.

“There are lots of football, baseball, softball, tennis, pickleball fields, community centers, theaters and a skating rink,” Hilton said. “But there are no animal shelters run by the city of Santa Clarita.”

Mayeda said she would support any decision the city might make about opening its own animal sanctuary, but she values ​​the relationship she has with the city and is committed to continuing to “provide services to [Santa Clarita] if that is their wish.

Hilton said she has been exploring the possibility of a more comprehensive animal facility that would include “space for a veterinary clinic, a low-cost spay/neuter clinic, and areas for dog training and grooming.”

Roberts-Diem and Hilton said they support the Castaic Animal Care Center and believe the staff are doing a good job within their abilities. They said their proposed facility would take some of the stress off the Castaic shelter and prevent unnecessary euthanasia of pets.

For this project to gain momentum, Roberts-Diem and Hilton said they needed community support as well as a green light from the Santa Clarita City Council.

The petition currently has over 1,600 signatures and needs about 400 more to reach its goal of 2,000 names.

“What we really need to do is show the city council that as a community we all care and want to help keep these animals safe,” Roberts-Diem said.

Two-year-old Scooter emerges from his enclosure at the event hosted by LA County’s Castaic Animal Care Center where 18 dogs, three cats, three rabbits and five guinea pigs were available for adoption at the event held in Valencia Acura at Valencia on Saturday 112021. Dan Watson/The Signal

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