Meetings - August 15, 2019 - Minutes

Meeting Date: 
August 15, 2019 - 5:30pm
City Hall Room 408
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102



Meeting Minutes August 15, 2019


  1. Call to Order and Roll Call

Present: Shari O’Neill; Nina Irani; Russell Tenofsky; Jane Tobin; Brian Van Horn, DVM

Absent: Annemarie Fortier; Bunny Rosenberg; Rachel Reis, Lisa Wayne; Officer Ryan Crockett


  1. General Public Comments:
    • Concern regarding new management plan for Tule Elk in Point Reyes.
    • Concern regarding “Pet Camp” advertisement in ACC adoption packets.


  1. Approval of Draft Minutes from the July 2019 Meeting
    • Meeting minutes were approved.


  1. Chairperson’s and Commissioners’ Reports
    1. Commissioner Tenofsky reported regarding Commissioners whose terms are finished, and that Rules Committee is meeting on Monday, September 9th to make appointments to vacant seats.


  1. Old Business
    1. SF ACC / SPCA Feral Cat Program Changes
      1. SPCA and ACC recently modified a long-standing feral cat program.  In the past, mother cats and kittens less than two months old were trapped, brought to shelter, then returned to the wild (mother cats) or adopted (kittens). The new policy is to allow mothers and kittens to stay in the wild until kittens are weaned.  Virginia Donohue, Director of ACC, will present.
      2. Director Donohue commented regarding concern about “Pet Camp” advertisement, clarifying that it was a paid advertisement, an opportunity that is available to any business.
      3. Director Donohue presented on the following:
        • Policy decision to delay intake of feral kittens was driven by welfare concerns, not statistics.
        • New policy still allows for orphaned feral kittens to be brought to ACC, for ACC to assess whether kittens that are with their mothers can stay in the field, and mandates that families in dangerous or hazardous situations be brought in.
        • No cat has been turned away from ACC, and no resident has been refused help.
        • ACC cat intake and outcome statistics included adopting out 1,064 cats and transferring 1,127 cats to adoption partners. 
        • ACC focuses on Capacity for Care, including length of stay and keeping some kennels empty to meet space and inflow requirements for disease prevention and increasing adoption.
        • ACC’s new policy to only fix kittens when there is room on the adoption floor has reduced kittens’ time on the floor from 14-16 days to 10 days.
        • SPCA feral cat nursery was unsuccessful, and mother cats still exhibited stress and aggression despite being moved to more spacious housing.
      4. Commissioner Tobin asked how ACC assesses the safety of the outdoor situation, and ACC responded that if residents were willing to put out food and leave cats in place, the cats were considered safe.  She asked whether a responsible partner organization could be involved in feral cat care, and ACC responded that it would have no issue with a partner organization specializing in the feral cat community that maintained the same standards as ACC.
      5. Commissioner Tenofsky asked whether feral cats have longer than average lengths of stay, and ACC responded that it is unknown, since they are not categorized separately as feral. He asked whether ACC sent individuals to assess situations in-person and did follow-up assessments, and ACC responded that assessments were done over the phone and that follow-up is done by the SPCA’s Community Cat program.  Finally, he asked why ACC/SPCA’s version of what happens to feral families being cared for differs from the rescue volunteers’ version, and ACC responded that their reports are based on veterinarian assessments in shelters and not in foster care.
      6. Commissioner Van Horn asked whether there is coordination between ACC and SPCA as to information given to residents, and ACC responded that Community Cats is solely responsible for following-up with residents.
      7. Commissioner Irani asked what ACC has done to reach out to rescue volunteers, and ACC responded that SPCA met with them a few times and held a meeting for their volunteers, and that ACC does not have rescue volunteers.  She asked who is responsible for the feral cat community as a whole, and ACC responded that they have no legal mandate regarding feral cats.
      8. Members of the public commented regarding:
        • Concern that the mortality rate of kittens left outside, which is 50-75%.
        • Concern that the policy change is based on anecdotal information and not scientific data.
        • Concern that rescue volunteers are not being heard and that SPCA is directing ACC’s policy.
        • Concern that kittens are being turned away and unnecessarily euthanized at ACC.
        • That feral cat nurseries, including the one at SPCA, are not failures.
        • That stress to mother cats should not be prohibitive, as TNR programs are also stressful.  
        • Concern that the new policy will increase kitten mortality and the feral cat population.
        • Concern that kittens are being brought to SPCA from outside San Francisco.
        • That the mandate of a city shelter is to care for all animals.
      9. The Director of SPCA’s Community Cats commented that coordination with ACC is ongoing and CC reaches out to concerned community members and follows-up on cats on a weekly basis.
      10. Commissioner Irani suggested revising Board of Supervisors letter to request an answer to whether city is responsible for feral cat community.  Commissioners voted to revise the letter.


  1. San Francisco Dog Licensing
    1. San Francisco requires dog guardians to register pets. Commission will discuss this regulation. 
    2. Commissioner Irani reported regarding concern that very few city dogs are licensed and requested input from Director Donohue on this issue, including whether licensing funds were going to ACC as mandated by Administrative Code.
    3. Director Donohue responded that licensing funds (approximately $400,000) go into the city general fund, and ACC’s budget is approximately $7M, and that a Deputy Director is coming on board next month and will be prioritizing the licensing program so that action can be taken by end of year, and can come to the Commission in the Fall to discuss the issue.  Currently, outsourcing options are not feasible.  Some jurisdictions are foregoing licensing altogether because cost is more than the funds raised.  ACC agrees that licensing is not a good revenue source because operating cost is more than funds received, and that consumers see less value in licensing because of availability of microchips.  Also, Tax Collector does not want to collect licensing fees because of the difficulty in operating the program.
    4. Commission O’Neil reported that there were 16,882 licensed dogs in the city.
    5. Members of the public commented regarding:
      • Concern that senior dogs and dogs with medical issues cannot fulfill licensing requirements.
      • Suggestion that veterinarians would be good source for licensing as they do rabies vaccines.
      • Potential solution of using GPS collars for dogs, which city could track.
    6. Commissioner Van Horn commented that changes should not negatively affect ACC’s budget. 
    7. Commissioner Irani will follow-up with Supervisor Fewer on this issue.


  1. Commission Technology Update
    1. An update on Commissioners’ efforts to update the webpage.
    2. Commissioner Tobin reported on the need for a Supervisor to sponsor changes to city charter to include administrator for the Commission, and following up with Administrator Naomi Kelly.
    3. Director Donohue reported that Naomi Kelly is investigating this issue and suggested following-up with Bill Barnes in the City Administrator’s office, which Commissioner Tobin will do. 
    4. Commissioners Tobin and Tenofsky will discuss issue with Rules Committee on September 9th


  1. General Public Comment - None
  2. Items to be put on Calendar for Future Commission Meetings
  3. Adjournment (approx. 7:37 p.m.)