Quechan Housing Authority to suspend animal control services
Lack of funds means the Quechan Housing Authority workers who had also been catching stray cats and dogs across the reservation will be suspending animal control services as of March 15, leaving it up to the tribal council what to do next.
The housing authority doesn't have funds budgeted for the expense of capturing what it says is an increasing number of stray animals and bringing them to the Humane Society of Yuma – a commitment that ended up costing more than $15,000 just in 2012, according to a notice in the Quechan News by the QHA's Board of Directors. Instead, the department was drawing from federal dollars that are supposed to go directly to low-income housing services.
Tribal president Keeny Escalanti Sr. said the council will take up the issue within the next couple of weeks.
The housing authority started responding to animal-related complaints at its housing complexes about two years ago, after a cash-strapped Imperial County stopped sending its own animal control officers to the reservation, said Brenda Rummel, administrative assistant to the Homeownership Council at QHA.
Then the housing authority started responding to animal control calls reservation-wide – including on agricultural land that tribal members lease out to farmers, which Escalanti noted is a resource that some elders use to support themselves.
Three QHA employees were trained to properly subdue and briefly care for an animal. The department's trucks have portable cages, and animals – usually dogs – could be held temporarily in two kennels before being taken to the Humane Society of Yuma. The tribe signed a contract with the humane society, allowing them to bring in animals from across state lines.
But, “we're not equipped to keep the animal over a long period of time,” Rummel said. And the cost became too great.
Humane Society of Yuma Executive Director Shawn Smith said the tribe has taken a proactive approach to its animal control issues and has a good relationship with his organization.
“I know they have some financial challenges that they're trying to work out and we're going to work with them, too,” he said.
Rummel likewise said the humane society has been good to the tribe, but the housing authority simply doesn't have the money available for animal control.
“It was just a Band-Aid but I'm hoping that council will try to figure something out,” she said.
The QHA recommends residents now contact the Quechan Police Department at (760) 572-2933 with animal issues.