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Riverton/South Jordan shelter contract approved

Oct 05, 2017 02:32PM ● Published by Mariden Williams

South Jordan has agreed to let Riverton use its animal shelter. (Mariden Williams)

In the most recent installment of Riverton City’s ongoing quest for in-house animal control, on Sept. 5, the city council unanimously approved a contract for shelter services with South Jordan City.

“It is not an exclusive agreement,” said City Attorney and interim City Manager Ryan Carter. Riverton City is still free to pursue contracts with other shelter services, and even “if Riverton City never puts an animal in South Jordan’s animal shelter, there would not be a breach of the agreement.” No payment will be due to South Jordan unless animals are actually sheltered there. 

This past July, Riverton split from Salt Lake County Animal services in the face of dramatically mounting cost increases. The city will continue to receive county services until January 2018, at which point the contract will expire, and the city will be left to fend for itself.  

Though a welcome development, the South Jordan contract isn’t the ultimate conclusion of this tale. It’s more of a stepping stone, to smooth out the city’s transition away from countywide services. South Jordan can’t remain Riverton’s primary animal shelter provider forever. It has its own animals to worry about; at some point, its shelter will hit capacity, and Riverton animals will need to go elsewhere. But with the South Jordan contract in place, Riverton is at least guaranteed a place to shelter its animals while it sniffs out other options.

The other likely option is a partnership with local animal clinic Stone Ridge Veterinary. 

According to Councilman Trent Staggs, when Riverton first started looking for shelter services to partner with, “there were several things in the RFP [Request for Proposal] that we asked of respondents, that South Jordan I simply don’t think can fill.” 

Stone Ridge, however, checks all the right boxes and more. It offers special adoption outreach programs, after-hours access, complementary baths and checkups, and twice-daily outside time. It’s based in Riverton, so residents won’t have far to go to pick up their animals. 

“And, they’ve got a licensed veterinarian on staff, so we won’t have to build in additional veterinary care. They’ve baked that into their fee,” Staggs said.

But, of course, higher-level services come with a higher price tag. Based on figures pulled from Riverton’s time with Salt Lake County Animal Services, it is estimated that contracting with South Jordan would cost about $69,000 a year, while Stone Ridge would cost about $123,000. 

The most notable price difference between the two services is the cost of euthanasia—Stone Ridge provides the most humane form of euthanasia available, via veterinarian-administered lethal injection. The South Jordan animal shelter uses a gas chamber.

Staggs has a few ideas on how to potentially bring down the expenses of a contract with Stone Ridge. One possibility he floated was to “selectively put certain groups, such as the ‘other’ category,” a group of animals which has in the past included everything from goats to ostriches,” with South Jordan, and then work with Stone Ridge on just cats and dogs.” This move alone could save the city about $20,000.

But, until the exact details of working with Stone Ridge can be ironed out, South Jordan’s animal shelter fits the bill.

In addition to being a quick patch for Riverton’s immediate animal shelter needs, the South Jordan contract also provides an opportunity to foster intercity cooperation. “Riverton City’s yet-to-be-hired animal control officers would badly need to have a good relationship with neighboring communities so that they could get mutual aid when it’s required,” said Carter. “Mutual aid is very important for any law enforcement agency,” even if the agency in question does deal primarily with animals.

“I think that under the circumstances, it was important and, in fact, necessary for us to sign the agreement with South Jordan now,” Carter said. “But staff still intends to negotiate with the veterinary clinic to get the best deal possible.”

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