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Private contractor taking over Fresno Co animal control

September 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
In just one week, the grounds of Fresno's old county morgue will become the new county animal shelter.

The county is hiring a private contractor to take over for the SPCA on October 1.

It's going to be a very limited operation - stray dogs only. They'll be housed in cages, outside but under cover, in the morgue parking lot. The morgue building has been vandalized and can't be used.

It's a temporary fix, but the county won't join the city in putting animals back in the care of the SPCA.

Contractors remain busy installing new water and sewer lines to provide sanitation services for the temporary shelter. It's being designed to hold one hundred dogs.

County administrator John Navarette says it will be ready.

"We are pushing ahead will all expectations to be operational on October first," Navarette said.

The County Board of Supervisors is expected to approve a contract with Clovis veterinarian Charles Wilkins and his newly-formed company Liberty Animal Control Services. They will be responsible for rounding up stray dogs in the county's unincorporated areas.

"We are going to take every step we know how to get dogs adopted. Best you can do is to try and get them a new home and get them picked up by their owner, that's another thing that needs to be done, is get them easily picked up by their owner," Wilkins said.

Wilkins says animal rescue groups will aid in finding homes for unclaimed animals. The county will provide the equipment, including the facility, vehicles and kennels.

Wilkins will provide staffing, including animal control officers and veterinary personnel to take care of injured animals.

The county will pay $750 thousand dollars a year for the services.

This will initially be a limited facility. Dogs cannot be dropped off by owners who don't want them. Stray cats won't be taken in, unless they are hurt. But this situation is only temporary.

"We plan to be back before the board within 30 days with a recommendation for a longer term site," Navarette said.

The county hopes to make some land use changes to allow the former boot camp known as the Elkhorn site south of Fresno to be turned into an animal shelter. Navarette is also hoping the City of Fresno gets back on board with the county in a joint animal control effort.

Both the city and county were working together with Liberty to find an alternative to the Central California SPCA which decided to get out of the animal control business on October 1 after being criticized for its high kill rate. But the city decided to get a six month extension with the SPCA, leaving the county on its own.

The Board of Supervisors will be asked to approve a three year contract with Liberty at Tuesday's meeting.


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