The Santa Clarita City Council on Tuesday ultimately held off on making plans for the city to open its own animal shelter, following recommendations and discussion with staff.
The council unanimously approved staff suggestions, and council members even mentioned a few specifics, which entailed ways the city can support the efforts of the Department of Animal Care and Control, but officials didn’t seem to see the need for a city-run no-kill shelter.
“Animals have never been the problem,” Councilwoman Laurene Weste said, calling herself a lifelong advocate for animals who also mentioned her efforts to lobby for an animal-cruelty law. “The problem is us.”
The city didn’t need to create its own services when the county was able to meet local need, she said. Weste also called for the city to expand its existing programs to support animal care services locally.
“If Castaic needs some upgrades, I’d like to see us help with that,” Weste said, calling on the city to “step up to the plate,” mentioning grants and more support for spaying and neutering programs, which were the real difference-makers.
“I’d like to have an off-site location, like we did at the mall,” she said, referring to the Shelter Hope Pet Shop that used to operate at the Westfield Valencia Town Center.
Councilwoman Marsha McLean noted the Castaic Animal Care Center is really a county responsibility, so it shouldn’t be the city’s job to pay for needed upgrades.
“I think we need to ask the county to step up because it’s their facility, and the more money that we put into it, the less they will,” McLean said. “If the shelter needs to be expanded, they need to step up, for goodness sake. And so, I would be very much in favor of, a bunch of us should go down there, now that they’ve opened it up, and ask them to step up.”
She also supported looking at other ways the city could augment shelter services.
A Citygate study commissioned by the City Council found the shelter was under capacity and meeting the needs of the city of Santa Clarita, a claim that several local volunteers challenged during the public-comment portion of the meeting.
After advocates showed up at City Hall in February 2022, the City Council authorized Citygate to spend up to $40,000 to conduct a study as to whether the Castaic animal shelter was adequate to address the city’s needs.
The city spends about a half-milion dollars each year contracting its services with the county Department of Animal Care and Control, according to the Citygate report. The study didn’t mention what it would cost for the city to build a shelter.