Our View: Let’s take animal shelter situation slowly, get public involved
April 20, 2018
It looks like Nevada County really stepped in it this time.
Things started simply enough: county officials issued a request for proposals for animal shelter services. Just two groups applied — Sammie's Friends and Placer County, the latter of which said was interested only in possibly adopting out some of our animals at its Auburn facility.
On the surface, it appeared like Sammie's Friends had no competition. It's a beloved organization that's run our shelter for years. What could go wrong?
On Monday we learned a county panel recommended Placer for what that county had suggested — adopting out some of our animals at their building. Here's the kicker: Nevada County would take over the remaining operations from Sammie's Friends.
The local animal organization appears to be left out in the cold, and now everybody's looking at their shoes to see what smells.
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Nothing seems to get people in Nevada County more incensed than the poor treatment of animals. That's doubly true for how we treat the animals that go through our government's shelter.
Before we as a community collectively go rabid over recent developments, let's take stock of the situation: Only a recommendation has occurred. There's been no permanent decision on who gets the contract. Sammie's Friends will continue to operate the shelter until June 30.
The revelation about the panel's recommendation seemingly caught everyone flat-footed. What we need as a community is time to examine the proposals — documents local officials say aren't public record until the Board of Supervisors approves a new contract.
That's not the best way to build goodwill with constituents, or determine who should get the contract.
We understand Nevada County has a job to do. The contract with Sammie's Friends is ending and the county asked for proposals. It's business as usual.
County officials would be foolish to discard Placer's proposal and give the equivalent of a blank check to Sammie's Friends. That's not good stewardship of tax dollars.
But neither should the county walk away from the group that's built up what many call the best animal shelter they've ever visited.
This process needs to play out with the caveat of keeping Sammie's Friends in the fold. The law may allow county officials to keep the proposals under wraps, but this issue outweighs any secrecy our government may think is necessary.
Release the proposals, give the public a chance to dig into the details and let's make the best decision on the animal shelter's future together.
Sammie's Friends, and many individuals throughout this county, have given hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours of volunteer service over the years to the care of animals. People are howling over this perceived injustice. A smart government will listen.
There's a town hall meeting set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Foothills Event Center, 400 Idaho Maryland Road, on this issue. Those interested should arrive early. It's likely to be a packed house.
County officials should attend as well — to take notes and learn more about this emotional issue and how important it is to this community.
Those officials then should return to their offices, share what they've learned and recognize that the emotion behind this issue is more than bark.
There's plenty of bite as well.
Our View is the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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