San Diego

Workers Protest Possible Outsourcing of Animal Services to Humane Society

An Animal Care attendant warns that the level of emergency service available in animal cases will go back "decades."

Workers rallied against the possible outsourcing of Animal Services to the San Diego County Humane Society in front of the Central Shelter on Monday.

Animal Services employees gathered with community activists to ask the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to decide against the outsourcing of the Animal Services department, according to the group. The event was held at noon on the 5000 block of Gaines Street. 

A decision about the outsourcing of jobs has not yet been made, said a County official.

“The only decision that has been made regarding Animal Services is that after June of 2018, we will no longer provide service to San Diego, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Del Mar, Solana Beach and Santee,” stated Michael Workman, a County spokesperson.

Workman said the San Diego County is working to gather community input so that a thoughtful decision can be made that is best for the animals and the taxpayers.

At the rally, the group argued that Animal Services offers expertise, experience and accountability that is not possible to match using an outside agency.

"You're going to be losing a lot of officers with trained experience to be able to handle all kinds of things from animal cruelty, dog bites, dog attacks, dogs being mauled by other dogs," said Tiffany Mushet, Animal Control officer with the County of San Diego.

"We also handle wildlife as well as rattlesnakes. The biggest issue is once the county does this it dismantles our department -- there's no going back," said Mushet.

The group says they excel at training field officers and finding rehabilitation treatments for animals that other organizations are not willing to help.

"The animal safety and human safety will go down drastically," warned Bobby Keith, who has worked as an Animal Care attendant for all three shelters. "The service levels will drop drastically and prices and euthanasia will rise drastically."

Animal Services officials say they deal with a breadth of safety threats such as dog fights, rattlesnakes, quarantines, animal hoarding and abuse. Outsourcing could lower the training for officers, causing issues that would threaten public safety, according to the group.

"I've dedicated my life to animals," Keith told NBC 7, while choking back emotion. "I've worked hands on with animals at the shelter for eighteen years."

"We didn't get into this for the money. We are one of the lowest-paid agencies in the state," said Keith.

The result would be a loss of transparency and accountability, a reduction in service hours and jobs, as well as cost increases, said the group.

"We're going to go back decades in the level of service, relationship with rescues, relationship with the public and dealing with the dog fighting and the hoarding cases," said Keith.

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