Talking points

Coming next week
The readers have spoken, and we have logged who you feel deserve Best of Chico honors. We’ll unveil those selections, along with picks from CN&R’s editorial staff, in the Sept. 21 issue.

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

That quotation from Cool Hand Luke kept resurfacing during the reporting process for this week’s cover story.

The situation at the Fair Street animal shelter is complex, and generalizations are dangerous. This is not a case of the big, bad city wresting control from the meek, helpless humane society—nor a case of Animal Control riding in like a white knight to save poor lost pets from indifferent caretakers. Both the city and Butte Humane Society care about animals’ welfare and understand the challenges posed by the outdated facility on a small patch of land.

So Meredith Cooper and I made sure we checked—and checked back—with officials from City Hall, Animal Control and BHS whenever we uncovered something new. At times, it seemed as if we were a main conduit of information, particularly from the city to BHS but also the other way around.

It wasn’t (and isn’t) our intention to bridge gaps. If that happened as a side effect of journalistic due diligence, then so be it.

What I hope has come out of this process is a renewed commitment to communication. City administrators acknowledged the need for improvement in this regard, and the fact that the sides have met more regularly of late is a step in the right direction.

Bonus cover story coverage: One of the flash points regarding the shelter is euthanasia. The prime concern has been about how the number of animals that get put down would change if the city took over.

Less emotional but certainly important is BHS’s ability to euthanize any animal two weeks from now. That is about when the shelter’s supply of euthanasia solutions will run out. The organization needs a veterinarian to acquire the medications; Executive Director Cathy Augros said BHS is talking with a local vet and “this will not turn out to be an issue.”

Of course, all this presupposes that the humane society will still be there in two weeks. Augros said BHS will run out of money Friday (Sept. 15) if it does not receive payment for services rendered since the city contract expired—about $50,000. If she doesn’t get a check, BHS will leave Saturday.

Assistant City Manager David Burkland said his office is ready to cut the check when BHS signs a month-to-month agreement taking into account the shelter’s expanded operation (now open to the public seven days a week instead of five). He expects that to happen before Friday, though Augros has concerns about an amendment pertaining to building repairs.

Communication, communication, communication.

Shameless plug: I don’t usually trumpet individual businesses. But we are just a week away from Best of Chico, and I am partial to a certain person with a new venture, so …

Bidwell Pediatrics, the practice of Dr. Amy Dolinar, opens Monday (phone: 895-8101). Amy grew up in Chico and Paradise, moved to Ohio as a teen, then came back to California for her residency at world-renowned Loma Linda University.

Oh, by the way, she’s my fiancée, the reason I’m here. Enough said.