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City Council Looks At How To Save On Animal Services

The city of San Diego could save $3.2 million over the next five years by renegotiating its animal services contract with the county of San Diego, a city auditor said today.

The estimate by Chris Constantin came as the City Council accepted an audit on the contract, under which the county Department of Animal Services handles issues for pets and other critters within city limits.

The audit, released in June, found that the city has paid more than $2 million more to the county than its fair share, since it has 64.6 percent of the affected population but accounts for only 59.9 percent of the calls for service.

By comparison, the share of calls from the unincorporated area outstrips its population by 6 percent, so San Diego is partially subsidizing the county's use of animal services, according to the audit.

The current deal expires in June 2013. Under more favorable terms, the city could save $3.2 million, split fairly evenly on an annual basis over a five-year period, Constantin said.

The county Department of Animal Services runs shelters, provides registration for pets and neuters dogs and cats in unincorporated county areas and contract cities like San Diego, Carlsbad and Santee. The cities pay for their share of the department's budget based on population.

Council members voted unanimously to support the audit's recommendations that include a new formula that reflects the city's actual share of services.

They opposed a recommendation that cats be registered and vaccinated for rabies, which Councilman Carl DeMaio called a "cat tax.''

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