Changes at Contra Costa Animal Services
Contra Costa Animal Services has worked with the community for many years to respond to public calls about wildlife. Many of those calls result in wildlife patients being brought to our hospital for treatment and care, like the juvenile raccoon that Animal Services transported to our hospital on Oct. 1. Completely wrapped in what appeared to be thick volleyball netting, the small raccoon needed to be cut out of the netting and treated for a swollen leg and cuts caused by the entanglement. In addition to caring for this and other patients Animal Services brings to us, we often refer calls received on our hospital hotline to Animal Services for assistance and pick up.
Due to staffing and budgeting issues, as of Oct. 5, Animal Services is unfortunately no longer responding to any calls about injured, sick or trapped wildlife. They are instead referring callers to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Contra Costa Animal Services is a wonderful partner and have brought us cases — more than 248 this year — that would have likely led to animal deaths or human injuries without the department’s response.
While they are unable to respond to more general calls, Animal Services will respond to any possible rabies exposure when a sick animal has bitten a human or attacked a domestic animal or when there is a circumstance that may place a person or domestic animal at risk for exposure. But with the reduction in services, it becomes even more important that people not place themselves in danger by handling possible rabies vector species such as bats, skunks and raccoons. And while Animal Services will continue to pick up dead domestic animals from private property and all dead animals from public roadways, it will no longer pick up dead wildlife on private property. Additionally, calls about animals stuck in storm drains will be referred to a city’s public works department.
Daily operations have also been impacted. Animal Services hours have changed to 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and after hours on-call officer services have been eliminated, with calls placed for service after 9 p.m. held until the next morning. The department’s animal shelters have also been affected: the Martinez shelter remains open but the Pinole shelter has closed.
These changes will require people to be more aware about their impacts on wildlife and to concentrate on preventing interactions that may harm our wild neighbors. You can call our hospital hotline at (925) 659-8156 for advice about what to do if you encounter sick and injured wildlife and you can also find information on our website here. You can also visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Bay Delta Region website here and report a wildlife incident here.
Let’s work together to keep wildlife safe, healthy and in the wild.