Local News

Tuesday, Jan 14 2014 09:16 PM

Ad hoc group recommends targeted spay-neuter program for county

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    An early 2013 clinic brought out Daniel Olguin and his dog Lobito. 5th District Supervisor Leticia Perez and Kern County Animal Control sponsored the event.

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BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer jburger@bakersfield.com

A diverse group including animal advocates, county staff and county supervisors David Couch and Leticia Perez hashed out a rough plan Tuesday night that includes spending $100,000 for a targeted voucher spay-neuter program to reduce the county's population of loose dogs and cats in several problem areas.

The county has $250,000 available.

According to an analysis of three years of animal intakes to the Kern County Animal Services shelters, the 93307, 93308 and 93306 zip codes account for more than 50 percent of the problem.

Another $30,000 would be spent on the county's existing trap-neuter-release program which alters feral and community cats.

Couch recommended putting $50,000 into mobile spay-neuter clinics in outlying communities and another $50,000 split among the five county supervisors to support nonprofits' efforts in their districts.

The remaining $20,000 would go to advertise programs and into a reserve to handle unmet needs that crop up.

The collection of nonprofit groups, veterinarians, animal officers and animal volunteers cheered the framework.

"Supervisor, I think that your plan is a wonderful starting point," animal activist Liz Keogh told Couch.

She said now the nonprofits with "boots on the ground" can take the plan, discuss the details and give Perez and Couch more advice.

Couch and Perez will bring the rough framework of the plan to the full board of supervisors on Jan. 28. Later that same day, they'll meet once more as an ad hoc committee before bringing the plan to a final supervisors' vote in early February.

During an earlier meeting Tuesday, the full Board of Supervisors:

* Bid farewell to retiring county Mental Health Director Jim Waterman and appointed William Walker, administrator of the department's Crisis Services section, as interim director.

* Voted to ban the use of alcohol and tobacco in DiGiorgio Park in Arvin and Rexland Acres Park in rural southeast Bakersfield at the request of young people working with Building Healthy Communities.

There was some debate over the tobacco ban because supervisors balked at restricting a legal activity or having the ban be used to harasss people congregating at the park. But it was approved.

* Created an ad hoc committee to review public transportation policy and pedestrian safety.

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