Though the proposed 2021 fiscal year budget contains a range of cuts for nearly every department, Long Beach Animal Care Services stands to gain about $300,000 for a full-time veterinary position and supplies for spay/neuter programs.

“It was difficult to do any enhancements this year—the veterinarian position was one of the few that made the list,” said Grace Yoon, the city’s budget manager.

The proposed $2.6 billion budget includes a range of reductions and seeks employee furloughs to compensate for a general-fund shortfall of $30 million.

The shortfall is the biggest in recent history, according to City Manager Tom Modica.

The enhancement to Animal Care Services will further the life-saving objectives of the shelter’s Compassion Saves operating model. So far this year, the city agency, with significant support from local rescues and community members, placed over 100 pets in foster homes and adopted over 400 more, as described in the comparison statistics. The shelter’s live-release rate numbers, which include transport to other rescues, returns to owner and return of newly altered cats to the area wh

ere they came from, again went in the right direction.

“I was really encouraged by the rise in the live-release rate—from 84% to 92% [in the past year],” said Brent Dennis, the recently hired director of the Parks, Recreation and Marine Department. “The higher you get, the more difficult it is to move the needle in a positive direction.”

Dennis considered the veterinary hire as a way to save funds as well as lives.

“When the shelter needs to send an animal outside the clinic, it costs four to five times as much than if it were performed in-house,” he said.

Yoon noted that funding to fully support Compassion Saves and to cover the increasing costs of medical supplies would require an additional enhancement of $400,000 to the $300,000. The smaller amount was granted instead of a potential reduction of four positions within the shelter, which the city was evaluating during the budget-development process.

Long Beach Animal Care Services has never been rolling in funding. In fiscal year 2020, Animal Care Services’ General Fund appropriation made up about 14% to 15% of Parks, Recreation, and Marine Department’s general fund budget, which was approximately 7% of the city’s general fund. But with additional funding, an increased number of gravely injured and ill pets could be treated and more could be spayed and neutered. Considering the community’s demonstrated dedication to the shelter’s pets, an opportunity to raise funds and request donations for supplies might present itself, Dennis said.

“If you have to see something reduced, it should be in an area where donations can be made, and the shelter is in a good position to receive donations in this area,” Dennis said.

If you wish to donate toward the medical fund for the needed supplies or to any of Long Beach Animal Care Services’ needs, access the donation page here.