Fresno County makes offer on land for new animal shelter

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It's shaping up to be another long hot summer at Fresno County's animal shelter. (KFSN)

It's shaping up to be another long hot summer at Fresno County's animal shelter. The temporary facility located at Teilman and Nielson in Southwest Fresno has been in use for nearly three years.

A new county animal shelter would be located right next door, on property now owned by the Stephens and Bean Mortuary; adjacent to their facility and directly across the street from the Belmont Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

The dogs and puppies brought in from around the 6,000 square mile county are being held in temporary cages, under temporary structures on the grounds of the old county morgue. While protected from direct sunlight and rain, the structures are open to outside air. The place is run for the county by Liberty Animal Control. Salvador Cortez is one of the managers and says things are getting tight.

"We are getting an influx of animals right about this time you get a lot of puppies, newborns, so our capacity goes up."

Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea says the county wants to increase capacity, by purchasing that land next door.

"We have found about an acre piece of land we've done an evaluation to see what the value is, and we are in current negotiation with the property owner."

Perea is optimistic a deal can be reached.

"We are pretty confident those negotiations are progressing well, and that if everything moves as expected it should come to the board of supervisors on the 19th of May for further action by the board to see where we go with the purchasing of the land."

The mortuary is not commenting on the county's proposal.

In the meantime, dogs are brought in to the temporary shelter every day.

Cortez welcomes visitors who want a pet.

"Anytime someone can come on down here and look and browse all the different variety of animals we have its always a good thing," said Cortez. "The more animals we can place the better."

According to the Department of Public Health, which oversees the facility, of the 327 dogs that come in every month. 46 are sent to animal rescue facilities for possible adoption. 30 are actually adopted out. An average of 20 a month are returned to their owners.

That means an average of 224 dogs are destroyed every month, either because they are vicious, sick or there's not enough room to hold them.

Public Health Director Dave Pomaville tells Action News that in addition to plans for a new shelter the county is expected to have extensive discussions about implementing a county wide spay and neuter ordinance.

Fresno County was forced to create the temporary shelter after the Central California SPCA terminated its contract with the county and the city of Fresno in 2012. While the city was able to resume its agreement with the SPCA after agreeing to pay a much higher rate for animal control. The county opted to contract with Liberty Animal Control.

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