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County May Soon Contract for Pet Police

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

As Moorpark and Simi Valley rethink their contracts with Ventura County for animal control services, the Board of Supervisors has decided to explore getting out of the animal regulation business altogether.

On a 4-1 vote, the board on Tuesday gave Animal Control Officer Kathy Jenks the go-ahead to solicit proposals from private and public agencies that have expressed interest in taking over the county’s animal regulation department.

The action comes as the two east county cities continue to negotiate for cheaper animal regulation service with the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control.

If Simi Valley, the Ventura County department’s largest client, pulls out of the system, the remaining cities and rural areas would see their annual animal control costs rise by tens of thousands of dollars, officials said.

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Simi Valley pays the county about $250,000 a year for licensing, rabies control and animal shelter services. City officials estimate they could save about $50,000 a year by switching contractors.

Although Jenks only asked to explore alternatives to running a Ventura County animal control agency, Supervisor John K. Flynn rejected the proposal. He said he was concerned about the level of care the county’s domestic animals would receive from another agency.

“I don’t particularly like this idea,” he said.

“I have to say, Supervisor Flynn, that I’m not real enamored with it either,” Jenks said in response, “but I think it’s something we all need to address.”

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Thousand Oaks withdrew from the county system five years ago, finding increased service at a cheaper cost with neighboring Los Angeles County, said Supervisor Frank Schillo, a former Thousand Oaks councilman.

But Schillo said the county’s options are not limited to signing on with Los Angeles County. He said he has talked to Santa Barbara County over a joint animal control agreement that would cover west Ventura County areas.

He also has talked with officials from Los Angeles and Orange counties about a regional approach to animal control that could vastly cut administrative overhead costs for all three counties, he said.

Jenks said she likely will not return with any proposal for at least six months. Meanwhile, she said, she is nearly ready to bring to the board a proposed cat licensing ordinance that could help her agency increase annual revenues.

Animal control officials said licensing cats would not only help control the spread of rabies, but that it would also reduce the number of cats put to sleep every year because their owners cannot be found.


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