Porterville ceases animal control in Lindsay, Woodlake

City of Porterville opts to drop animal control services in Woodlake, Lindsay; contracts to expire in September

PORTERVILLE – The City of Porterville has decided to wrap up animal control services in Lindsay and Woodlake, citing a need to focus its resources in its own neck of the woods as animal populations continue to grow.

The Porterville City Council recently voted on Feb. 20 to terminate its contracts for animal control services with the cities of Lindsay and Woodlake. For its reasoning, the city said after Lindsay and Woodlake’s number of animals doubled, the City of Porterville informed the cities they could no longer provide animal control services.

Porterville will continue to contract with the cities until September, when the contracts will expire.

“While cost is always considered, the main reason for terminating the contracts was to focus on animal services within the city of Porterville,” the City of Porterville said via email statements. “While this recommendation does not come easily, staff believe the termination of the agreements will allow for more efficiency and focus on animals within the Porterville jurisdiction, which will also mitigate euthanasia cases.”

According to the statements, Porterville has experienced a steady increase in the number of animals picked up within the city over the last few years. It was noted that many of the animals are “aggressive strays” and open up the city to a new level of liability.

“This risk of liability to the city comes at high risk, and is not an efficient or effective use of staff/city resources, which could be spent on animal issues within the city of Porterville,” the City of Porterville stated.

While the city has opted to cancel these services, it is also getting close to wrapping up the construction of a new animal control facility. When asked if the new facility had anything to do with the decision to end their services to other cities, the city replied: “In its analysis, staff took into consideration several factors during the review of this matter, which included the growth of the city, which correlates to an increased animal population.”

There also seemed to be confusion among city staff regarding the termination of the animal control contracts. When information was requested from staff about the change, they explained that it was Woodlake and Lindsay who wished to end the contracts.

However, upon request for further information from the city’s police department, it was confirmed that it was the City of Porterville who canceled the contracts. When Porterville city staff was asked if they had negotiated with the cities before canceling the contracts, they said both cities were aware that the contracts were going to be terminated and accepted the termination.

Lindsay and Woodlake also confirmed that the city of Porterville was the one to end the animal control contracts, and even more, said the city was not interested in renegotiating the contracts.

“The Lindsay city manager wrote a letter to the Porterville City Council prior to their scheduled Feb. 20 council meeting, acknowledging that rates had not been adjusted since 2016, requesting a renegotiation of the animal control contract,” The City of Lindsay stated in written statements. “ The Porterville City Council declined to renegotiate and voted unanimously to terminate the contract with both municipalities.”

Statements from the City of Lindsay explained the city was notified the issue would be going to Porterville City Council on Feb. 20, and that “City council could potentially raise rates or vote to terminate the contract.”

Woodlake City Manager Ramon Lara explained that it was unclear why the city of Porterville chose to end the services. He also noted that, while being contracted with Porterville for animal control services, Woodlake was being charged around $45-55 per animal, which he pointed out is significantly cheaper than other agencies.

“We were surprised. We thought there were no issues but I think there might be some changes coming along where it just didn’t work for Porterville, and it’s understandable,” Lara said. “We’re just looking at what our options are now.”

The City of Lindsay also stated it is unclear what next steps will be taken to provide the city with animal control services, but it is willing to work with Woodlake to find the best option.

“The City of Lindsay has been in contact with the City of Woodlake to determine our next steps for animal control services. Per the existing contract with City of Porterville, they are terminating animal control services with both cities pursuant to the existing contract with 180 days notice, effective Sept. 1,” The City of Lindsay stated.

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