County rushes to meet deadline to open animal shelter

FRESNO, Calif.

Water, sewer and drainage work has been done and the rest of the equipment to turn the grounds of the old Fresno County Morgue into an animal shelter is on the way.

Fresno County's Director of Environmental Health, Dave Pomaville is making sure it all goes together.

"They will be powering up the facility over the weekend and then the kennel installer will be here on Saturday, starting at 7 in the morning," Pomaville said.

With the SPCA pulling out the County has had only a week to prepare the site and hire a contractor to run the place. Dr. Charles Wilkins, a Clovis veterinarian says he and his staff will be ready to do what's required.

"We will handle all the vicious dog calls and the emergency type things. We will be dealing with those," Wilkins said.

Wilkins set up a new company, Liberty Animal Control. He has a staff of more than a dozen people including four certified animal control officers. Initially they will only deal with what the law requires, vicious dogs and injured animals. Pomaville said the county hopes to work with other agencies to find homes for strays and abandoned animals.

"That's going to include working with the animal rescue organizations and with the SPCA and with the people who have animals trying to solve problems as opposed to us running out and picking them up if we don't have to," Pomaville said.

This is all happening because the Central California SPCA decided to end its more than 50 years of service to both the city and the county.

The city of Fresno on Thursday made a temporary agreement with the SPCA, to continue on a temporary basis but nothing is firm and city council members say they want to work with the county. Supervisor Henry Perea believes both will come together with a long term solution.

"The city and county will be coming together and we will be talking about in the future of animal control and I believe that's a state-of-the-art facility that's going to be as close to no kill as possible," Perea said.

Public criticism over its high kill rate of impounded animals was one reason the Central California SPCA decided to get out of the animal control business.

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