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Inland Valley Humane Society contract to be extended

An agenda item to extend the contract with the Inland Valley Humane Society for an extra year quickly pivoted to a conversation about whether or not Claremont would become a “no-kill” city.

The contract, which was unanimously approved by the council, lasts for one year at $127,467, which is an increase of $5,568 from last year, according to Claremont Police Chief Shelly Vander Veen. The contract will go into effect on July 1.

IVHS covers a number of animal-related services within the city, including picking up strays, disposing dead animals, enforcing leash laws, operating animal shelters and collecting dog and kennel fees and licenses.

According to a chart provided by the city, in 2017 IVHS logged 640 service hours, took 1,376 calls for service, picked up 111 stray dogs and 139 stray cats, and adopted out 151 stray dogs and 65 cats.

But IVHS also euthanized 10 dogs and 66 cats in 2017. Chief Vander Veen told the council this was a significant drop in the past seven years—133 dogs and 181 cats were euthanized in 2011 by IVHS.

This drop was due to a program called “Getting 2 Zero,” which aims to cut down on euthanizations of dogs and cats, Chief Vander Veen said. Of the 10 dogs that were put down in 2017, nine of them were deemed “unhealthy/untreatable” and one was too ill.

During public comment, Tandy Robinson, a volunteer for Priceless Pets, urged the council to make Claremont a “no-kill” city. She noted if Priceless Pets were more involved in the process, the 10 euthanized dogs could have been saved.

“The chief talked about those ten animals, while that is not a large number, Priceless Pets, and myself as a citizen of Claremont, believes that every life is precious,” Ms. Robinson said.

When Mayor Opanyi Nasiali asked if those 10 dogs were adoptable, Chief Vander Veen said they were, as long as they were safe to be released to the public.

“In my opinion, if a rescue partner went there and adopted them, they would have taken them away and we would have had zero,” the chief said.

The chief also noted the national benchmark for a shelter to be considered “no kill” is when 90 percent of the animals leave the shelter alive. This takes into account roughly 10 percent of animals who either are unsafe or have serious health issues that would be exacerbated by prolonging their lives.

When looking at last year’s stats, where 111 dogs were picked up versus 10 that were euthanized, the IVHS is already meeting those standards. However, IVHS did not meet that benchmark for cats.

While the council approved the contract extension, Councilmember Sam Pedroza asked city staff to work with Priceless Pets on how to become a no-kill city, including “what that means, what it costs, and how do we know that it’s something that we want.”

The next city council meeting will take place on June 26.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com