Proposed management change for Santa Maria Animal Sanctuary

A change of direction could occur at the Santa Maria animal shelter.

Santa Barbara County Animal Services currently operates the Santa Maria Animal Center, but the city is considering other options as projected costs continue to rise.

Santa Barbara Humane seeks to resume operations of the Santa Maria Animal Center.

“We’ve developed something that we think really describes how animal care can be improved and how customer service and community care can be improved,” said Dori Villalon, Chief Operating Officer at Santa Barbara Humane.

Santa Barbara County Animal Services hopes to continue operating the shelter that serves the entire Santa Maria Valley.

The agency’s new director says they offer a consistent countywide service that benefits both people and pets.

“We believe having a one-stop-shop will be the most efficient and beneficial for pets and families who may have lost their pets and are trying to find them,” said Sarah Aguilar, Director Santa Barbara County Animal Services. “They don’t have to go to different places or check with different entities. “

Aguilar says the county board of supervisors recently voted to withdraw some of the shelter’s funding, which is driving up prices.

She adds that the county will still give the city nearly $145,000 in financial support each year.

“It’s the end goal is to get the dogs here, to feel like it’s camp – to train, to get re-association with good behaviors – and then to put those positive things back into the community. and to involve the community in doing it,” said Santa Maria Animal Center volunteer Joyce Melerski.

Melerski raises concerns that a change in leadership could strain resources at a shelter that serves a city of nearly 110,000 people.

“Moving to the human company — they don’t have the staff; they don’t have the training or the expertise. The current administration is not an administration to human society that is conducive to partnerships,” she said.

Santa Barbara Humane – on the other hand – insists she can handle the installation.

“We have two vet clinics, we have four vets on staff. Today, for example, our staff in Santa Maria performs 30 surgeries,” Villalon said.

The county’s new director of animal services wants the city to continue with the recently signed five-year contract.

“One of my goals is to leverage my experience in various locations across the country, both rural and metropolitan, and create services that truly honor the human-animal bond and are animal-centered, like we .I focus on animals,” Aguilar said.

Santa Barbara Humane – on the other hand – hopes the city will side with them.

“If someone comes to us and can’t afford to care for their pet, we have the ability through donor funding to help them with low cost care or free care,” Villalon added.

The animal center also offers pet pantries as well as vaccine and microchip clinics.

According to a cost analysis report presented to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors in April, the shelter’s operating costs could increase by 7 to 34 percent under the current trajectory.

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