Nevada County looks to change animal shelter operations, not renew contract with Sammie’s Friends | TheUnion.com

Nevada County looks to change animal shelter operations, not renew contract with Sammie’s Friends

By Alan Riquelmy Staff Writer

Nevada County officials have recommended Sammie's Friends no longer operate the county animal shelter after June, a change that's expected to send some local animals to Placer County for adoption, authorities said.

Sheriff's Lt. Sam Brown said Monday he'll work with Cheryl Wicks — cofounder and president of Sammie's Friends, the group that currently runs the shelter — on a transition plan. Details remain unknown, though Brown said the Placer County Animal Services Division, the group selected by Nevada County officials to operate the shelter, would become responsible for husbandry and animal care.

The animal shelter on McCourtney Road will remain open after June 30, the day the contract with Sammie's Friends ends. It's possible some adoptions could occur at that location. However, some animals would go to the Placer County facility in Auburn, Brown said.

"Our shelter is a no-kill shelter," Brown said. "It's still a no-kill shelter. That will stay the standard."

Wicks, who along with Placer County submitted a proposal to the county for certain aspects of the shelter's operation, questioned the county's wisdom in moving away from Sammie's Friends. She argued the change would lead to a bare-bones shelter and fewer volunteers.

"Of course, we'll try to cooperate," Wicks said, noting the importance of the animals. "I am going to fight this. I'm not just going to roll over."

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Wicks said she received an email Monday from county officials informing her of their decision to award the contract to Placer County.

"After careful consideration of all firms who participated, the project goals and evaluation criteria published in the (request for proposals), the evaluation panel has not selected your firm for this project," the letter states.

The new contract must be approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Next steps

Negotiations with Placer County and the creation of a contract must occur by June 30. Those negotiations would include the cost associated with each animal Placer County would care for, Brown said.

The lieutenant said he believes a new contract would save the county money.

According to Brown, Sammie's Friends estimated it would need about $750,000 in the first year of a new contract to operate the shelter. It also would contribute about $250,000 of its own funds in addition to county dollars.

Brown estimated a $650,000 cost under the new contract.

The exact cost remains unknown. No negotiations have occurred.

Wesley Nicks, Placer County's director of Environmental Health and Animal Services, said his proposal to the county focused on having some animals at his facility for adoption. He said in February he had no intention of displacing Sammie's Friends.

"We just offered to help take some of their animals," Nicks said Monday.

Brown said he anticipates hiring people once the new contract is implemented.

Employees, which could include existing animal control officials, are needed for the operation of the McCourtney Road facility. Animal Control will continue to bring found animals to that facility. Additionally, locals can surrender their animals at the shelter, Brown said.

"We've appreciated the time we've worked with Sammie's Friends," Brown said. "We look forward to new relationships and ensuring the safety of the animals."

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