New shelter for Fresno Humane could save lives of animals, but neighbors not happy

FRESNO (KFSN) -- A new shelter for Fresno Humane Animal Services in Northwest Fresno could save the lives of dozens of animals, but not everyone's happy about it.

The plot of land near Grantland and Highway 99 was donated by Darrel Ridenour, the Darrel's Mini Storage with the intent of decreasing the homeless animal population.

Those with Fresno Humane say donations of this magnitude are invaluable and want to jump at the opportunity to provide better care for the County's homeless pet population.

For the last three years, Fresno County's homeless and stray pet population have come to the old Fresno County Morgue, the current temporary home of Fresno Humane.

Tracy Crutchfield describes the less-than ideal conditions, "It is a handful of kennels and cages dropped onto asphalt with carports for cover."

The outdoor facility takes in roughly 6,000 animals per year, even during triple digit summers and close to freezing winters.

That is why the non-profit is so excited about the prospect of a new shelter facility.

Crutchfield says the plans call for, "30,000 square feet with 185 kennels that have an indoor/outdoor component. Proper drainage and temperature control."

They add the close proximity to HOPE Animal Foundation will cut down on medical transportation costs.

"This is as much a key community service as any other institutions. We don't think shelters should be out in the middle of nowhere."

The land proposed for the shelter is currently zoned as residential. To address community concerns, Ridenhour ordered traffic, noise and pollution impact studies.

Online petitions are circulating both for and against the rezoning of the residential parcel.

We spoke with residents in the neighborhood who either hadn't heard of the proposal or didn't mind it, like Mayra Zubieta who lives less than a football field away.

"There is always going to be some kinda of traffic, and it is a big street, so it does not bother me at all."

Other neighbors, concerned with crime in the area, say they do not feel safe with the added foot traffic the shelter could bring and would prefer a different location.

Elisa Bilios says traffic is already an issue in the area and is concerned people weren't properly notified.

"We do not need this service. There are other constituants in Fresno County that need this, and need this shelter, and this vet to be more accessible to them."

Action News spoke with Darrel Ridenour by phone and he says he hand delivered more than 1,700 letters of support from neighbors and says he's on track to bring roughly 1,000 more to the public hearing.

The decision to rezone goes before the Fresno County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, September 11.
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