Petition drive to be launched for new Fresno Co. animal shelter

FRESNO, Calif.

"It's time for the people to show you the support for the animals and they will put a tax on themselves to create a permanent solution."

Ridenour heads the Hope Animal Foundation, and is best known as the owner of Darrel's Mini-Storage.

He told the Fresno County Board of Supervisors he's ready to launch a petition drive to put a sales tax on the ballot, to pay for animal control and care. The Board has the power to bypass the petition drive and put the question directly to the voters, but only two of the five Supervisors, Henry Perea and Phil Larson supported the idea. They are now behind Ridneour's grass roots effort.

Larson said, "If they want this on the ballot I would support it, but it needs to be up to the citizens."

The proposal, being called Measure H, would place a 1/8 per cent sales tax before the voters in the November 2014 election. It would require the signatures of about 20 thousand registered voters to get on the ballot and it would have to pass by a 2/3rds majority. Perea is optimistic.

"We just have too much momentum going for this not to succeed, we will succeed."

The tax could raise money for animal control and spay and neuter services and build a "no-kill" shelter. Ridenour is willing to donate the land.

The present temporary facility has dealt with more than 900 animals in the past three months. About two hundred are currently housed in metal kennels on the grounds of the old county morgue.

Since Liberty Animal Services was hired to manage the county's animal control duties, 425 animals have been adopted out.

48 were returned to their owners.

238 animals, mostly dogs, which were described as unadoptable because of sickness, injury or temperament were euthanized.

Liberty Animal Control officers returned 137 stray animals to their owners without bringing them in.

The county is not just banking on Measure H. One option, is tearing down the old county morgue building, and putting up a steel building like Madera County animal shelter on the site is being discussed. Earlier plans to convert the old county boot camp into an animal shelter have been dropped because of its remote location and excessive renovation costs.

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