A parade of volunteers for the county-run animal shelter unleashed a torrent of criticism about the operation at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Dec. 18, with one after another calling it a poorly run, often dirty, uncaring operation that sometimes doesn't vaccinate animals quickly enough and too often relies on undersupervised jail inmates for labor.
The harsh words came at a forum designed to consider a request by Sheriff Pat Hedges that the Animal Services division be spun off from his supervision. Supervisors ordered their staff to study the matter.
Tensions between volunteers and manager Eric Anderson have been building for months, and supervisors said they've enlisted a mediator to try to work through the issues.
For their part, the supervisors somewhat defended the shelter, with Jim Patterson saying he dropped in unannounced recently and, while touring the facility, found it in "almost pristine" condition.
"I was quite impressed," he said.
Supervisor Jerry Lenthall said he visits the shelter regularly and has found it both clean and dirty.
Anderson didn't return a call for comment as of press time.
The shelter was moved under sheriff supervision a decade ago in the wake of public concerns over a high number of animals that were destroyed--more than 3,000 one year. With volunteer help, the facility managed to avoid destroying any animals for two years, but numbers have climbed since. Still, according to a county survey, the number of animals destroyed was the lowest of 13 other counties whose officials responded.