By Maya Rao

Hours at Minneapolis Animal Care and Control will remain the same – for now.

Budget constraints prompted the city regulatory department to propose scaling back the division’s availability, and on Wednesday the City Council’s public safety panel voted to accept the plan. Changes would go into effect immediately, officials said.

But during Friday’s City Council meeting, Council member Gary Schiff said animal control officials have since informed him they could maintain their hours a little while longer. The City Council approved a motion by Schiff to preserve animal control operations until March, when the Ways and Means Committee will decide whether to provide it with some of the leftover money in the 2011 budget.

As expected, the council also approved John Fruetel as the city’s next fire chief, following Mayor R. T. Rybak’s recognition of retiring Fire Chief Alex Jackson. Both men shook hands after the vote.

Council members and the mayor plan to attend Jackson’s retirement party at 1 p.m. Friday at the Bill and Bonnie Daniels Firefighters Hall and Museum.