Rocklin's animal shelter moving

Increased number of animals, Parvo outbreak drive need for new facility
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald correspondent
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The Rocklin City Council approved an updated service contract with a local veterinarian to provide a larger animal shelter as the number of animals coming in increases.

According to the contract, the city will divert fees collected by the shelter to the operator for three years to help prepare a new facility. Owner/operator Dr. Bikram Basra is a veterinarian at Rocklin Ranch Veterinarian Hospital, but has operated the city’s animal shelter on the side at another location since July.
“We’re not here to make money off a shelter,” Basra said. “We just want to be a service and make sure that everyone gets a good deal and the dogs and cats get saved at the same time.”
Basra said people ask him why he operates a shelter if it is so much work with little money in it.
“It’s like asking the same question, ‘Why are you a veterinarian?’” He said. “Because I love the dogs and animals.”
According to the contract, the city pays Basra $131,556 a year to deal with the city’s stray animals and collect fees for the city.
While Rocklin’s Animal Control officers bring in strays, residents have been surrendering unwanted pets as well, in increasing numbers.
“Going from an estimated 500 a year average over the last three years to what we anticipate now this year to be closer to 900 (animals),” Rocklin Police Chief Ron Lawrence said. “Most likely it is because of the convenience of having a local shelter now.”
Lawrence said the existing 1,600-square-foot facility at Park and Sunset operated by Basra could not adequately house the increase or manage the required disease control necessary to maintain healthy animals and prevent the spread of disease. Lawrence said a recent outbreak of the Parvo dog illness was a factor in the contract change.
“The shelter did experience a Parvo outbreak a few months ago, but it was quickly resolved in a matter of days,” Lawrence said. “This caused us to examine the current facility capacity, practice and procedures, adding to the decision to search for a larger, more segregated facility.”
Shelter General Manager Tammy Kearns downplayed the significance of the Parvo outbreak that sickened three dogs.
“We have excellent infectious disease protocols – no confirmed cases in the shelter at that time,” she explained. “It was a puppy housed in a foster situation and being taken care of there. It was well-contained and over in one weekend.”
Basra said the new place will have more isolation areas by design.
“We need more isolation in the new place to handle any kind of emergencies,” he said.
To accommodate the animal increase, a new shelter with a larger capacity and more efficient design is needed, the city contends. So how does the city pay for it without impacting the budget or residents?
Lawrence said the increased revenues from fees associated with the impounding, storage and release of animals went from an estimated $3,750 per year to an estimated $33,000.
Under the new contract unanimously approved by the City Council Nov. 13, the city will continue to pay Basra $131,556 a year to provide the shelter for Rocklin, but also give him the fees collected to construct the new 4,800 square-foot-facility de-sign. Basra is renting the new place, so the city will not own the facility after the three-year contract is up.
“It’s going to be very good,” Basra said. “We’re spending $100,000 to renovate. I’m financing it over the next three years.”
Once the animals are held for five to seven days, they are given to an adoption organization for placement. Basra said they do not euthanize for space.
“It is not a no-kill (shelter), but we try really hard not to euthanize anything,” Kearns said. “We have really low rates because we work directly with adoption agency.”
Kearns said every dog or cat who passes health and temperament testing will be up for adoption.
“Unless it’s aggressive or ill or completely un-adoptable for whatever reason, then it gets passed,” Kearns said. “We’ve had two that we’ve euthanized for behavior reasons from July until November.”
Basra said cats are by far the biggest problem in numbers alone. As much as 75 percent more cats are available than dogs.
The new facility at 4357 Pacific St. is expected to open in January. Basra hopes a nonprofit status for what he calls the “Rocklin Animal Facility” will allow him to collect donations and volunteers to help the shelter.
Rocklin shelter

$131,556 cost per year

$107,400 estimated fees collected to fund new 4,800-square-foot shelter facility at 4357 Pacific St., opening January 2013.

Source: City of Rocklin

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