New pound in town

Council signs contract with local vet to operate animal shelter in Rocklin
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Placer County will no longer provide housing in Auburn for stray animals picked up in Rocklin. The City of Rocklin has agreed to pay Rocklin veterinarian Dr. Bikram Basra $131,556 a year to house Rocklin Animal Control?s stray animals in town. The previous contract with Placer County cost the city $129,291 annually with additional costs of $25,318 for staff time, vehicle maintenance and fuel costs to drive strays to the Auburn facility every business day. ?(It?s) a big change and a tremendous opportunity in the way we shelter animals,? Rocklin Police Chief Ron Lawrence told the council on Tuesday. ?As a city with Animal Control we pick up (the stray) animals, but we have to have a place to put them.? On average Rocklin Animal Control officers make the trip to the Auburn facility about five times a week ? about 35 miles round trip. To make matters worse, the county has increased Rocklin?s shelter fees by 209 percent since 2005. ?The county?s fees are based on a per animal rolling three-year average,? Lawrence said. Rocklin?s contract with Placer County expires in June. Officials wanted to avoid another increase. A similar deal in Roseville with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals requires that city to pay per animal it shelters. For $621,000 per year, the Roseville contract covers up to 3,000 live animals sheltered at $207 per animal. Rocklin?s new contract with Dr. Basra is a fixed rate for three years. Chief Lawrence said that works in Rocklin?s favor. ?The fees are not based on a per animal fee,? Lawrence said. ?It won?t matter how many animals are sheltered, which affords us a lot more latitude with animal control. The fixed rate contract amount is based on operating expense.? According to city documents, Dr. Basra is expected to perform all duties related to operating the city?s animal shelter, including veterinarian services, housing up to 39 animals, advertising the strays on the web and disposing of them if they can not be adopted. ?Right now we are only expecting one pet a day,? Basra said. He will, however, receive a break on housing loose livestock. ?Dr. Basra would shelter equine or livestock at his shelter on an intake and an exam basis only,? Rocklin LT. Chad Butler told the council. ?The city would be ultimately responsible for boarding and addition medical care, if needed. We can?t think of a time where we?ve had livestock or equine over the last several years.? Rocklin Police estimate between 40,000 to 50,000 dogs, cats and other animals reside within the city limits. The city is allowed to inspect the facility to make sure Dr. Basra is following the law. ?We are willing to help the city of Rocklin,? Dr. Basra said. ?We want to be a part of the community.? Dr. Basra will be required to work with the city to collect city fees associated with animal control. Citizens who pick up lost pets will be charged for the service. Dr. Basra will also have the power to waive city fees for citizens unable to pay. ?In the event of a documented hardship (Dr. Basra) may adjust fees or waive them entirely for the benefit of the animal,? Butler said. ?If we can help reunite the family, I think it?s appropriate the doctor can waive some of the fees, if not all of them.? Dr. Basra said he plans to sign an extended lease as well as hire four to six additional employees to operate the city?s shelter at his Rocklin Park Veterinarian Services location on Park at Stanford Ranch Road. Basra does not expect service disruptions and will still provide veterinarian services at Rocklin Ranch Veterinarian Hospital at Sunset Boulevard and Pebble Creek Drive along with four other veterinarians. ?This is a separate facility,? Basra said. ?This is a five doctor practice. We have plenty of doctors to take care of them.? The city estimates Rocklin citizens would save an estimated $2,618 in fuel costs annually by not having to retrieve lost and found animals from the Placer County facility in Auburn. ?Rocklin will be well served by this contract, which will be a great convenience for our public by not driving to Auburn to retrieve recovered animals,? Lawrence said. Basra has been one of the main supporters of RRUFF (Rocklin Residents Unite for Fido), the group that maintains the city?s dog park. RRUFF Board member Kate Gibbons said Basra has a good reputation and having a local shelter helps anyone who loses a pet. ?It?s a lot of worry when your pet is missing and you are going that far when you are trying to resolve things,? Gibbons said. The City Council approved the three-year contract on May 22. ?It?s always nice to save money,? Mayor Brett Storey said. ________ Rocklin Animal Shelter Costs Contract with Placer County: $129,291 New contract with Dr. Bikram Basra: $131,556 Fuel savings under new contract: $2,618 Staff/travel time saved under new contract: $20,313 Source: City of Rocklin