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Yolo SPCA, Animal Services part ways; partnership will take new form

For decades, Yolo SPCA staff have worked alongside those at a Woodland shelter to provide services aimed at helping animals.

Starting today, this partnership will change and these responsibilities will shift to solely county staff.

Specifically, the Yolo SPCA is closing its office within the Yolo County Animal Services shelter “in detriment to animals and county residents,” according to Tracey Louper, who has been involved with the shelter on and off for 30 years.

Louper posted on her Facebook page, highlighting efforts by SPCA staff to provide better care to the animals who find themselves in the shelter off East Gibson Road. The partnership has reduced the euthanasia rate enough to qualify the shelter as a “no kill facility,” she stated.

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Yolo SPCA staff also help train volunteers and often interact with potential adopters, she explained.

“If you have been to the shelter to look for a new family member you have likely interacted with a volunteer trained by the SPCA,” Louper posted last Friday.

“As of July 1st, 2018, YCAS staff is to take over the above duties and others that have heretofore been provided by SPCA employees,” she continued. “So taxpayers will now be paying for what they used to get for free. That is, if the overworked YCAS staff has the time or knowledge to do so.

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“I do not cast aspersions on YCAS staff, theirs is a physically and emotionally exhausting job, but I know the shelter is chronically underfunded and its staff overworked,” Louper clarified. “Something will have to give and it is likely be to the detriment of the animals.”

What prompted this change remains a mystery to Louper and others.

“I do not know what caused the breach between YCAS and SPCA,” she writes. “It seems to me that 30 years of partnering should allow for the working out of any difficulty.”

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Asked to comment, Yolo SPCA Executive Director Kimberly Kinnee stated “we are proud of the programs we have implemented and managed and the level of commitment we have offered for so many years at the shelter, all of which has been made possible through generous donations and the support of the community.”

Kinnee explained that her agency will be focused on other programs to assist the community and animals in need.

“Yolo County SPCA and Yolo County Animal Services will continue to work together to make a difference in the lives of animals in need in our community,” she stated. “We also hope to operate community cat clinics at the spay/neuter clinic at the shelter as we’ve done for the past few years.”

Kinnee’s forward-looking statement doesn’t explain the reasoning behind the change in partnership.

One woman, who called The Democrat and wished to remain anonymous, said there have been a variety of issues in terms of shelter management and there have “been a lot of politics” with the partnership.

In a Friday phone interview, Louper indicated that she has since gleaned information from others about the situation, supporting this position.

“Shelter personnel made the environment difficult,” Louper said, relaying what she has heard. “It has always been a power struggle I believe. The problem in my mind is that the same mentality that does law enforcement is not the same mentality that should run a shelter.”

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However, Louper believed relations between the two sets of staff have been improving, but admits that she can only speculate what prompted to split as she is “not there on a day to day basis” to watch events unfold.

Yolo County officials have been less than forthcoming in terms of reasoning, instead issuing a statement of gratitude.

“The Animal Services Section and entire Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Yolo County SPCA for the years of service and commitment their staff provided to the shelter,” Sgt. Matt Davis stated. “The shelter was fortunate to have a group as dedicated as the Yolo County SPCA assisting in so many capacities. We are proud of the work we have accomplished together.”

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Davis noted that although the Yolo SPCA office is closing, the agency will still provide services to the shelter, including foster homes in their rescue program.

“The relationship between the two agencies will continue as we work together for the benefit of animals throughout Yolo County,” Davis concluded.

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