Being involved with animal adoption and fostering, it was with a heavy heart that I listened to the recent testimonies and comments at the Oakley City Council meeting between representatives of Homeless Animals' Lifeline Organization (HALO) and the proposed new animal rescue organization being created by some former members and volunteers of HALO. The outcome was the council enacting a 120-day notice of termination without cause to HALO on its lease at the former fire station, and the intention of initiating a Request for Proposal (RFP) for potential new tenants.
Animal rescue, care and adoption are complex, challenging and emotional issues. It is evident from all who spoke, and their supporters in attendance, we have many dedicated and caring people in Oakley trying to make a difference for animals in need.
While I understand their displeasure and frustration, I was disappointed four council members took the stance they did, particularly after the money HALO has spent refurbishing the fire house for animals. Also, by making their judgment based on an assessment of the extensive list of HALO's programs and services after only 12 months into a three-year lease.
It is an ambitious list, but from what I can determine there should be no reason all these good people can't come together to achieve many of the programs and services in HALO's current contract with the city. Maybe what is best for our community and the animals is if these two groups meet, with the help of a mediator, to decide who can best provide which of these services and then create their RFPs accordingly.
I would also like to see the city create a citizens' advisory committee to help work through the RFP process and selecting any future tenant for Halo House.
While they are working on this in the coming months, here are some ways we can help animals in our community now: 1. Understand animal adoption and guardianship is a commitment for the life of the animal. Do not adopt more than you can responsibly take care of now and in the future. Cute kittens and puppies you select today may have a life span of 20 years. 2. Spay and neuter your pet -- even those intended for indoor living. Los Angeles Animal Shelter reports within a seven-year period one female cat and her offspring can theoretically produce 420,000 kittens. 3. Ensure proper identification on your pet such as a microchip or collar with tags. 4. Don't ever abandon animals in a public area. Rarely do they have the coping skills to adapt after living as a member of your family and sadly become victims of motor vehicles, human cruelty, disease and other animals. Contact a local rescue group or shelter about surrender options. 5. Making end-of- life decisions for yourself, parents, or other family members? Don't forget to include pets in your will or living trust to ensure they are taken care of. 6. Support animal shelters and rescue groups in East County. I'm not advocating one over another, so check out their websites to learn more about their services, current donation wish list, fundraising events and volunteer opportunities: Antioch Animal Services, Contra Costa County Animal Services, Domestic Animals in Safe Haven, Friends of Animal Services, Homeless Animals' Lifeline Organization, and Homeless Animals Response Program.
Animal overpopulation, abuse, abandonment and homelessness have become an epidemic plaguing too many cities. Here's hoping both groups in Oakley can meet and come up with plans on how we can all work together to continue caring for our local animals in need.
Angela Lowrey is animal advocate from Oakley.