Animal Control Struggles With Questionable Animal Rescue

Cindy Bemis and Vince Rhodes have had up to 200 dogs, many plagued with mange, on their property where they live in their van.

They recently took their dogs to San Bernadino, which has strict shelter guidelines, and were kicked out.

Then 101 dogs were sent to a private kennel in Los Angeles County, where they were confiscated due to poor health.

They are back in Bakersfield, and Animal Control said they need to get rid of shelter regulation loopholes in order to deal with them.

The county wants to change what designates a legitimate shelter in the county, so they have more power to shut some questionable shelters down, like Bemis and Rhodes'.

Bemis and Rhodes have run what they call a rescue and adoption shelter near Mojave.

Rhodes said they love the dogs and they aren't giving them up.

"They ain't touching my dogs," he said. "Put me in jail."

Over the years, Animal Control has received numerous complaints that the dogs were roaming free or had no food or water.

A few years ago, a fire burned the main house, killing 40 dogs.

Denise Haynes said Bemis has been cited numerous times over the years, and each time an officer has returned and Bemis has complied, so the county could take no further action.

They said despite the rampant mange, the dogs are not in danger of death.

Rhodes said they adopt a lot of dogs out and they try to cure the mange, and he said they aren't going anywhere.

Code compliance has also cited Bemis for not having a main building, and said she has hired a contractor to start the process of putting a mobile home on the property.

In the meantime, it could be several months before the Animal Control Committee has the new shelter definitions worked out, then it needs to be approved by the Board of Supervisors.