Animal shelter will remain open Mondays

The San Martin Animal Shelter will keep its current hours of
operation and staffing level, thanks to a small but serendipitous
windfall from the state budget.
By Lori Stuenkel

Gilroy – The San Martin Animal Shelter will keep its current hours of operation and staffing level, thanks to a small but serendipitous windfall from the state budget.

The funding will keep at bay, at least for the next fiscal year, a $90,000 budget cut that would have closed the shelter on Mondays and eliminated 1.5 vacant staff positions from the shelter.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, Santa Clara County Supervisors formally approved using the newly discovered funds to spare the shelter.

County Executive Pete Kutras announced earlier this month that his staff only just found the money, in the amount of $121,000, as the state decided to fund a mandate that requires shelters to keep animals alive for at least five days.

The county received funding for the 2005 fiscal year and will have to file a claim to cover next year’s costs.

“They had cut the funding initially in the budget, but then the governor put it back,” District 1 Supervisor Don Gage said. “It was not expected at all.”

Though it is a solution to this year’s proposed cuts, it is also only a one-year fix, he said. Next year’s budget could spur layoffs not just at the shelter, but throughout county departments.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen because we still have a $50-million gap next year,” Gage said.

The San Martin shelter, the only one in South County, houses about 3,500 cats and dogs a year. According to shelter staff, they find homes for 54 percent of the dogs and 74 percent of the cats they take in.

A large network of volunteers provides foster homes for hundreds of kittens each year, and animals are not euthanized unless they’re determined to be unadoptable.

Last year, a study commissioned by the county recommended that the shelter be expanded because it is overcrowded and South County’s human and animal populations are expected to grow significantly over the next 20 years.

The shelter was due to close two days a week next month, but members of Friends Of the San Martin Animal Shelter fought loudly and bitterly.

Volunteers overwhelmed county officials with phone calls and e-mails demanding that the cuts be rescinded.

Gage earlier this month asked Kutras to find money for the shelter.

Leave your comments