Some 30 people turned out this week at Napa’s former Copia building to learn how to gather signatures for a ballot initiative that seeks to cut the kill rate to less than 10 percent at the Napa County Animal Shelter.
Monica Stevens, founder of Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch (JARR), said she and Pam Ingalls, board president of Wine Country Animal Lovers (WCAL), are seeking 120 volunteers to gather some 5,000 signatures by April 30 to qualify the initiative for the November ballot.
Stevens said they will have volunteers throughout the valley over the next eight weekends seeking signatures of registered Napa County voters.
To qualify for the ballot, John Tuteur, Napa County’s registrar of voters, said the group needs to collect 3,900 signatures, but advised that they collect 5,000 because, as Stevens said, “some of them will get bounced.”
The initiative measure would modify the Napa County Code in eight ways. According to the document, “The purpose and intent of this measure is to improve the quality of life for dogs, cats and rabbits and avoid their unnecessary destruction by improving the live release rate for the Napa County Animal Shelter to at least 90 percent.”
It would accomplish this by replacing the killing of dogs, cats and bunnies with “higher live outcome alternatives where possible,” according to the initiative. Stevens said this means the animal shelter is required to cooperate and collaborate with the county’s eight nonprofit rescue partners, of which WCAL and JARR are the strongest.
“The county just hired a new shelter manager (Erika Gamaz), and with her background, we felt this is a win-win for everybody,” Stevens said.
Currently, 41 dogs, cats and rabbits are up for adoption on the Napa County Animal Shelter website. Stevens said if they are not adopted, data show that 13, or about one-third, will be killed.
Stevens said she and others started meeting with the Napa County Board of Supervisors last June. After those discussions, “We decided to go forward with the ballot initiative because we wanted to make certain this was going to happen. The supervisors are very busy, there’s a lot in front of them, and this (creating a ballot initiative) ensures that this is one of those things in front of them.”
If the 5,000 signatures are gathered, Stevens will present them to Tuteur’s office, which will make certain the signatures are those of registered voters. Then the ballot measure will be presented to the Board of Supervisors.
“We’re hoping for all of us that when we hand in the signatures, they will adopt it into law immediately,” Stevens said, rather than waiting for the November election.
In the past two years, Stevens and her husband, David, have raised $1.5 million at two Wineapawlooza events, each held in July. Last Thanksgiving, the Stevenses closed escrow on a 40-acre parcel in Pope Valley that is slated to become the Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch after it receives permits and the buildings are renovated. Stevens said it could open by the end of the year.
Jameson Animal Ranch Rescue is a no-kill rescue and sanctuary for homeless companion and farm animals, and Wine Country Animal Lovers is a local nonprofit animal rescue organization.