County supervisors approved a spay and neuter contract Tuesday that could help resolve an impediment to Kern and Bakersfield's efforts to merge their animal control operations.

The board's unanimous approval of the $378,250 contract with AngelDogs Foundation, retroactive to Oct. 22 and running through June 30, came despite criticism that the contract was unnecessary and that the county inappropriately failed to gather competing bids.

Kern Animal Control Director Jen Woodard assured the Board of Supervisors that her department will only use AngelDogs' services while she pursues other options for spaying and neutering animals that come under the county's care.

"We plan to continue to explore and flesh out those services as we move forward," she said.

Last week, Bakersfield City Council members questioned an earlier version of the contract that would have extended 12 months longer and, in effect, set some of the city's animal control costs.

Woodard responded by changing the contract's term so Bakersfield would not be affected by the county contract.

At Tuesday's meeting, county resident Liz Keogh asked the Board of Supervisors not to approve the contract, saying there should have been more than one bid and that the county ought to make better use of its own veterinarian before contracting outside services.

Woodard countered that only AngelDogs provides mobile spay and neuter services locally. She said having the company come to Kern's animal shelter is better than using the department's only van to take animals to the vet because it frees up the vehicle to save more animals.

Woodard also said it was "a lot to ask" of the county's veterinarian to spay and neuter all 3,200 cats and dogs the county receives every year.

"Our veterinarian is very busy," she said.