San Diego Humane Society approved to take over animal services contract for Del Mar

Switching to the San Diego Humane Society (SDHS) for animal control services on July 1 will bring Del Mar residents and their furry companions all the services of decades past plus a laundry list of new services, including response to barking dog complaints, veterinary programs and a dedicated officer who will patrol the city’s beaches and enforce its frequently contentious leash laws.

The array of animal control services are part of a three-year contract the Del Mar City Council unanimously approved on May 7. The first year will cost just under $39,000 while the next two years will derive from a formula weighing calls for service, relative population and the number of animal intakes.

For several decades, San Diego County provided Del Mar’s animal control services on five-year contracts. But last year, the County Board of Supervisors announced it would not renew contracts with Del Mar and five other cities—San Diego, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Santee and Solana Beach—that lapse at the end of next month.

Del Mar officials started conferring with nearby counterparts in August. As with those other cities, SDHS emerged as “really the only viable service provider for our situation here in Del Mar,” said Clem Brown, the city’s special project manager.

Basic services will match those the county provided, including shelter and care for animals; investigations and enforcement; responding to calls for dangerous domestic animals; and monitoring and responding to bites.

Strays will be taken to one of two locations at SDHS’s Oceanside campus. Meanwhile, Del Mar is searching for somewhere to place a temporary holding facility where found animals can stay for a day in the hopes that their owner claims them before being sent to Oceanside.

The $39,000 contract—$7,400 more than the county’s contract last year—will offer significantly more. A uniformed officer based out of an office at Del Mar’s soon-to-open city hall will make daily patrols, especially along beaches to enforce the city’s new dog-leash ordinance. The expanded coverage will include response to barking dogs and other nuisance calls, educational work at community events, pet training, disaster response and affordable veterinary programs.

Still to be decided during the city’s annual budget deliberations next month is whether to add another $10,000 to fund four hours of patrol per week.

“This makes a whole lot of sense,” said Deputy Mayor Dave Druker. “I just want to be careful about the enforcement of the leash laws. That is going to be not quite as ...”

“Easy to do,” said Councilman Terry Sinnott.

SDHS already serves Poway, Oceanside, Vista, Imperial Beach, Escondido and San Marcos. The City of San Diego two weeks ago approved an 18-month, $20 million contract. Carlsbad and Santee have inked their deals with SDHS. On May 9, the Solana Beach City Council unanimously approved a three-year contract with San Diego Humane Society for animal control services, beginning July 1, 2018. The vote in Encinitas is set for May 23.

With all the new contracts, SDHS is adding 200 positions to its staff of roughly 350, Weitzman said. He vowed that all preparations will be in place by July 1.