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Costa Mesa in talks with Newport Beach animal hospital for temporary shelter services

Costa Mesa in talks with Newport Beach animal hospital for temporary shelter services
Costa Mesa officials are negotiating with an animal hospital in Newport Beach for temporary animal-care services once the city stops using the Orange County Humane Society shelter in Huntington Beach, pictured. (File Photo)

The city of Costa Mesa is negotiating with an animal hospital in Newport Beach for temporary animal shelter services after the city's contract with the Orange County Humane Society expires this month, according to Councilman John Stephens.

Stephens said Thursday that he couldn't disclose the facility's name because talks are continuing, but he said he hopes an agreement will be announced shortly, perhaps as soon as Tuesday's City Council meeting.

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One name not on the list of possibilities is Home Free Animal Rescue & Sanctuary, a nonprofit that partners with Newport Beach for shelter services, Home Free representative Kathy Leonard said Thursday.

Costa Mesa's divorce from the Orange County Humane Society, its animal-services provider since 2009, began last month when the City Council rejected the organization's plans to develop a new shelter at 642 Baker St.

At the same time, the council delayed a proposed extension of the group's contract, under which Costa Mesa's stray animals are taken to the Humane Society's shelter in Huntington Beach, which also serves Garden Grove.

After the council's Dec. 5 meeting, Samir Botros — who owns the Humane Society shelter in Huntington Beach — sent a letter informing the city that he was no longer interested in renewing the contract, which expires Jan. 21.

Botros could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Costa Mesa spokesman Tony Dodero said city officials are talking with a shelter operator "who would provide us with at least a temporary solution."

Once that's done, he said, the focus will shift to finding a long-term provider.

In recent years, some Costa Mesa residents and officials have raised concerns about the Humane Society, alleging that its shelter is unsanitary and unsafe for animals and that the organization lacks transparency and too often euthanizes animals in its care.

In 2015, Newport Beach terminated its agreement with the Humane Society after city animal-control officers alleged unsanitary and inhumane conditions at the Huntington Beach shelter.

And last year, OC Animal Care denied the Humane Society's license application for the shelter. An appeal of that decision is scheduled to be heard this month, according to an official with the county agency.

During the Costa Mesa council's meeting Tuesday, members are scheduled to make appointments to the city's recently created Animal Services Committee, which will promote licensing, plan community events, make recommendations on how to improve city animal services and help advertise volunteer opportunities.

The committee also will play a role in finding an organization to fill the city's long-term animal-services needs, Stephens said.

"We're getting more focused on that within the city," he said. "That can only be good for the city."

Twitter @LukeMMoney

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