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City of Chico considers privatizing Chico Animal Shelter

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CHICO, Calif. - After years under city management, Chico city staff are looking at privatizing the Chico Animal Shelter in the near future.

They've officially put out a request for proposals for any organization to bid on taking over the services. City staff said they'll look at those proposals and determine what the best option is for everyone, including the animals. 

"Is the City of Chico in the business of animal welfare?" questioned Chico City Councilmember Randall Stone. It was a question he said he didn't yet have an answer to, but they've decided to take another look at the possibility of privatizing the Chico Animal Shelter.

"I don't have a personal opinion, or a dog in this fight, no pun intended, but I'd like to at least review what makes sense and what doesn't," Stone explained.

Which is why there's a new positing on the City of Chico's website requesting for any organization interested to submit a proposal to take over animal services. Contracting out could save the city money in pension costs, but Stone said that's not guaranteed, nor is it a good enough reason by itself to privatize.

"There's very little that would motivate me to make too much of a change if there isn't proof in the pudding, if there isn't evidence to suggest that this is going to provide us some benefit," Stone said. 

Those opposing the change said if it isn't broken, why fix it?

Shelly Rogers is a volunteer with the Chico Animal Shelter. "The shelter, as it's being run now, is financially responsible, they are completely transparent when it comes to intake and outcome of the animals," she said. "What happens to the animals that come in, where do they go, how many are euthanized. That's what Chico needs."

Rogers is fostering a stray dog named Marietta who was taken in by the Chico Animal Shelter. She's one of 445 animals the shelter has fostered this year alone. Rodgers said this is what sets them apart from other organizations, who might've euthanized a dog like Marietta as soon as she got there.

"The care that they're giving to Marietta, is the care that they give to thousands of animals every year," Rogers said.

She's concerned that if the city does decide to contract services, the new agency won't live up to the great job the current seven full time employees are doing now.

"Ghandi has a great quote that I'm going to mangle, but it's 'you can measure the greatness of a community by the way it treats its animals," Rogers said.

The city will be accepting proposals from agencies who are interested in taking over the animal services until February 14. Then it will go before the council.

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