The shelter gets more than 30,000 animals a year, sometimes up to 37,000. So far this year, nearly 80 percent of dogs and 60 percent of cats have found new homes or, in the case of wild cats, been returned to their colonies after being sterilized.
“We’ve done an outstanding job of bringing down the kill rate, but we have a long way to go,’’ Diaz said.
He said the goal is not only to save animals, but “save the money we’re using to kill animals.’’
If that were achieved, the county would allocate less than $20 million for the animal welfare plan, Diaz added.
That $20 million figure, which Pets Trust proposed last year to achieve “no kill,’’ was based on advice and analysis from experts around the country.
It’s a number that’s bound to be debated. Commissioner Esteban Bovo said that while “nobody is going to vote to kill animals,’’ taxpayers need to know what that will cost.
He doubted that some voters realized what the straw vote meant, likening it to a “push poll:’’ a kind of political telemarketing that seeks to influence voters rather than assess where they stand.
“We should look at ways of funding this that’s not on someone’s [annual tax] notices,’’ he said.
But it is the commission’s longstanding failure to adequately fund Animal Services that gave rise to Pets Trust, said co-founder Michael Rosenberg, a Kendall businessman.
For most of its history, the department wasn’t even a department, but a division of the police or public works, and got no general-fund money at all, but had to survive on fees and fines.
Only in 2005 did it become a budgeted department.
“For the last 30 years, the commissioners have not voted to properly fund Animal Services, so the Pets Trust went to the community and said, ‘Would you like to solve this problem once and for all?’ And the community overwhelmingly said ‘yes.’
“Now the commissioners have to implement what the voters said.’’