Fresno County to build new animal shelter, rules out any deal with city

FRESNO, California

The first step in making way for the new shelter will be tearing down the morgue building. It was unfit even to house dogs. They've been held in cages placed in outbuildings and temporary shelters in the morgue parking lot.

County Environmental Health Director Dave Pomaville told the board those temporary conditions can't remain much longer.

"The situation is that we handle about 4,000 animals a year," said Pomaville. "And we need to start planning for a more permanent solution."

The proposed solution would be a 50,000 square foot metal building. The Supervisors definitely want it, but Supervisor Debbie Poochigian questioned the nearly $3 million projected pricetag.

Poochigian explained, "$2.7 million which works out to $318.00 a square foot, which seems very high and I think we need to give staff an opportunity to go back and give us other options."

Supervisor Andreas Borgeas was frustrated to learn dealing with the City of Fresno was not one of those options.

"Have we decided we are no longer interested in a joint facility, or even having one last conversation with the city?" Borgeas asked.

The answer from the other four board members was "been there, done that."

Supervisor Henry Perea recalled being stiffed by the city on a previous animal control deal he and Supervisor Phil Larson worked out with the city, while Borgeas, was then serving on the city council.

Perea said, "We can't let ourselves be held hostage to folks who can turn on a whim especially after they give you a handshake."

Those hard feelings were evident earlier in the meeting when Borgeas brought City Council President Steve Brandau to address the board. Borgeas had introduced a motion to have the Supervisors get together and hold a joint meeting with the City Council. But the four other Supervisors rejected the motion, and Brandau left the room without speaking.

Politics aside, the Board is united in moving ahead and building the County's own animal shelter, which would be better for the lost and abandoned dogs who end up in county custody.

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