On Feb. 1, the Hollister City Council unanimously approved $56,000 in funding for a professional service agreement with SNIP Bus to provide low-cost spay and neuter services for cats and dogs.
The city’s previous agreement with the animal-focused organization ended in November. The new contract will extend the arrangement for an additional year.
The SNIP Bus (Spay Neuter Imperative Project) is a 501(c)3 low-cost mobile spay and neuter clinic. The bus is independently funded through sponsors.
In addition to providing spay and neuter services in the community once a month, SNIP Bus will also provide the same services for the Hollister Animal Shelter for at least five animals per event. There will also be four additional dates during the year focused on feral cats.
“This is the third year Hollister has funded SNIP and we are grateful they see the value and need for low-cost, mobile spay and neuter,” said Melanie Scherer, founder of SNIP.
According to spokesperson Allison Blake, the organization has spayed or neutered over 2,500 cats and dogs, feral and domestic, in Hollister. Across the state, SNIP has spayed or neutered over 22,000 animals.
Councilwoman Honor Spencer wanted assurance that the services would only be provided to San Benito County residents and that people outside the county could not bring their animals into the county for the service. City Manager Brett Miller told her that stipulation could be added to the contract during the motion to pass the resolution.
Councilman Tim Burns asked if the county contributes to the funding and, if not, that the services should be provided solely for pets of city residents. Miller said the county has not historically contributed funding for the service. Spencer agreed with Burns that only Hollister residents could use the service if the county does not pay for it.
Mayor Ignacio Velazquez said city and county residents were “one county,” and asked Miller how the county might contribute funding in a timely manner rather than turn away county residents who have already registered for the service. He wondered if the payments the county made to the animal shelter might be considered to cover the SNIP Bus services. Miller said he could talk to the county, and if supervisors approved funding the council could modify the contract after the fact. For now, though, the contract would cover the entire county.
Councilman Rolan Resendiz, a member of the ad hoc committee concerning the resolution alongside Spencer, said he recalled that the county was onboard to contribute to the cost of services. He was in favor of services being provided countywide and said the city needed to communicate with the county about what happened to the promised funding.
Ray Espinosa, county administrative officer, told BenitoLink that San Benito County is providing $5,000 toward the SNIP Bus program and that in the past supervisors have contributed from their individual donation allocations.
As Spencer made the motion to pass the resolution, she added the amendment that the services would only be provided to San Benito County residents. Though the majority of council members said the service should be provided to all county residents, Miller told the council that if the county does not provide additional funding the contract could be amended again to limit the service to Hollister residents, if the council chose to do so.
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