In presenting her request, Councilwoman Kell said:
First of all, I want to thank Mr. Bill Pearl and his LBReport.com for bringing this item to my attention.
Mr. Pearl reported a few weeks ago about a dog that was found in his neighborhood and the trials in trying to post the dog's picture on the internet after it had been turned into our Animal Companion Village.
Mr. Pearl also pointed out that Orange County had pictures that [they [post] on that County's web site in a fairly short order...making it easier for people with computer access to search for their lost pets.
Both Orange and Los Angeles Counties include pictures of both dogs and cats, and I have spoken with Ron Arias, our Director of Health and Human Services that oversees animal control, at our September 4th Council meeting about this item, and I know that he and Roger Hatakeyama of our Animal Control Division have been looking into this issue since that time.
I wanted to bring this matter forward on our agenda because of the continued interest by the public and my fellow Councilmembers.
What I asked to be investigated, and what I'm asking my fellow Councilmembers' support for, are the following changes.
That dogs and cats brought into the Animal Control side of the Animal Companion Village be digitally photographs and those photographs be placed on our web site within a short period of time. I am not asking that we reinvent the wheel here. I would love it if we could just adapt one of the other agencies' web software and buy a few digital cameras.
And if there is any ongoing cost, I'd be glad to work with anyone to try and find possible corporate sponsorship for this feature.
Secondly, that links be provided to neighboring animal control agencies. Our pets when they get loose and wander from home do not know that they should stop at the city limits. This addition should help make the search for a lost animal much easier for a frantic pet owner.
And finally, my original agenda item had asked that our Animal Control web site be updated to reflect the relocation and new hours of our new shelter village on Spring Street, and I just noticed today that this information has been updated recently and I appreciate the speedy action of staff in correcting this important information..."
Responding for city staff, Ron Arias, Dir. of LB's Dept. Health and Human Services (which oversees LB's Animal Control division) provided a brief response:
...The Orange County site was developed at a cost of $100,000...It's an excellent system, it's user friendly, very easy to use. The largest cost of their system is the personnel for daily maintenance of the site, assuring that the information is current. Staff spends approximately 4-6 hours a day taking photos and inputing data.
The Los Angeles County Animal Control Dept. has developed a similar web based system. To date, L.A. County has spent approximately $200,000 to design and start up their web site. The L.A. County system is also user friendly, it's a very nice system, links six shelters, and is maintained by a full time web director. As in Orange County, the most costly aspect of their system is the ongoing cost for personnel to maintain the site.
An enhanced web site for the City of Long Beach, similar to sites in L.A. and Orange County, could be developed here in the city at an approximate cost of $50,000 to $60,000. This site would have digital photos of animals impounded by LB Animal Control and updated daily.
Owners looking for lost pets would be able to search through pictures and descriptions of animals impounded and housed at the village 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Of course, owners searching for a lost pet would still be required to visit the village during business hours to make final identification.
[LB's] Technology Services Dept. estimates that web site design and development costs could approach $10,000-$15,000 utilizing existing city web site program design. In addition, we would need approximately $1,200 for camera equipment. And finally, we would need a part time staff equivalent to a single full time equivalent employee to provide coverage seven days a week at a cost of approximately $45,000. The total cost of this system is expected to be about $50,000-$60,000 and it would take us 60-90 days to institute...
Councilwoman Kell indicated she wanted more information on the financing:
Orange County, L.A. County, those are big places. And of course, since they've already developed these web sites, I think maybe we could copy them, use them, incorporate them into our system, so...obviously that's not going to be as costly...
But I would like the Department to address the financing and come back, I think, with a lower budget possibly, that's what I'm after.
And then I would also like to contribute some of my discretionary funds toward this project because I think it's a wonderful project. So why don't we see if we can pare this down somehow and come back with another financial report.
3d district Councilman Frank Colonna added:
...I really think it would be money well spent. I will admit that I have been to the animal shelter a few times to redeem our cats from time to time. But I just think that it's a great opportunity for the community, especially if they're surfing the web, to get involved and look at what's going on at our shelter...
I think the adoptability of the animals, the amount that get adopted, will be significantly higher...
Councilwoman Kell's motion requesting a subsequent staff report carried unanimously (8-0, Baker absent for entire meeting).