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Nevada County supervisors hear from supporters of Sammie’s Friends

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What: Town hall meeting about Sammie’s Friends

Where: Foothills Event Center, 400 Idaho Maryland Road, Grass Valley

When: 5:30 p.m. today

Cheryl Wicks, cofounder of Sammie’s Friends, urged members of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors to get a pet.

Wicks’ request at a Tuesday board meeting came as part of a larger push to have supervisors continue her organization’s oversight over the county animal shelter. She opposes a recent proposal to have Placer County adopt out some local animals at its Auburn facility.

It’s a push that’s appeared to have worked. County officials said Tuesday they’ll stop negotiating with Placer County and work with Sammie’s Friends to extend its contract.

About 100 people appeared Tuesday with Wicks, many of them speaking in support of Sammie’s Friends — the group that’s run the county’s shelter since 2010. The contract with Sammie’s Friends ends June 30.

“If you don’t think an animal can matter in your life, do you know who Sammie was?” Wicks asked supervisors. “Sammie was an animal. Get a pet and only good things will happen in your life.”

A Nevada County panel this month recommended Placer County adopt out some Nevada County animals — a proposal that’s since been shelved. Nevada County officials would have operated the existing McCourtney Road facility, where intake would have still occurred. Some adoptions might have continued to happen at the local facility.

Contract negotiations between Nevada and Placer counties have stopped, Sheriff Keith Royal said. The final decision rests with supervisors. No decision has been made.

“In some sense, this is premature,” Supervisor Ed Scofield said. “This issue has not reached this level at all.”

Scofield’s comments didn’t stop over an hour of public comment in favor of Sammie’s Friends.

Dan Castles argued Nevada County wouldn’t save money by shifting adoption services to Auburn. Moving local tax revenue, and jobs, out of the county clinched his decision to support Sammie’s Friends.

John Peek, a retired veterinarian, said he’s seen local euthanasia rates drop over the years. Then Sammie’s Friends took over shelter operations.

“I would never have believed that there really is a thing as a no-kill shelter,” Peek said of Sammie’s Friends’ success.

Others told supervisors the shelter under Sammie’s Friends is a model operation. Kim Sturla, executive director of Animal Place, called the local group exceptional.

“We have Cheryl Wicks to thank for that,” Sturla said.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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