Mixed reviews on a new animal shelter in Visalia

FRESNO, Calif.

The proposed site is just north of the existing Valley Oak SPCA. The current facility houses animals from Dinuba, Farmersville, Tulare and Exeter in addition to Visalia. And city managers from these neighboring cities tell me in these tough times they simply can't afford to help pay for it.

Adoptable dogs may soon have a new place to call home. And if they do they won't have to go far. An area of land next to the Valley Oak animal shelter is expected to be replaced by a brand new state of the art facility similar to the one shown in the artist rendering. The current facility is outdated and in desperate need of repair. The new shelter would take care of that.

"If I'm one of the other cities, I would encourage them to come on board because I think they're going to build a nice facility," said Tami Crawford. "We're very experienced in providing shelter and services."

Smaller Tulare County cities like Exeter contract its services to the SPCA. On average these cities already pay $33 thousand a year for core services. The new proposal would add roughly $22 thousand a year paid to the city of Visalia. The deal doesn't make a whole lot of sense to city managers who are scrambling to find fiscally responsible alternatives.

"For Exeter it's simply a business decision," said Exeter City Manager, Randy Groom. "We have a long standing relationship with the SPCA. That we think has been very productive. But for us it comes down to dollars and sense and what we need to do to provide for our community."

Visalia is teaming up with Valley Oak to build the new facility and the dues are divided according to how many animals each city places in the shelter. Visalia City Manager, Steve Solomon says no one is paying more than they have to.

"We're trying to be as flexible as we can," said Solomon. "But at some point the council's going to have to make a decision about what to build, what to finance and all that kind of thing."

The cities have until February to make a decision and Solomon says they're ready to break ground on the new shelter without them.

The ground breaking would take place late spring/early summer. Now there are also talks from these small cities about banding together and creating their own coalition. But some did admit that they might just end up paying the money.

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