BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The fate of seven hundred dogs and cats is up in the air as the Kern County Animal Shelter focuses on relocating.
This week, the City of Bakersfield decided to part ways with the county after a dispute over a lease agreement.
City leaders are talking to the Bakersfield SPCA Pet Adoption Center to help run a different type of shelter that offers jobs to the homeless and improves pet services down the road.
“When we gave them the notice that they were not going to be invited to renew the lease any longer, they acted shocked,” said Bakersfield City Manager Alan Tandy.
But it’s a decision city leaders say was coming. After more than 150 days, the county let a lease extension agreement pass without ever acting on it.
“It got to a point that each day many efforts were made to try and get them to respond in various organizational levels, each day was, wow, can’t get any response from them,” Tandy said.
The shelter located off Mount Vernon is owned by the city and leased to the county until the close of business on September 30, that’s when everyone and everything has to vacate the shelter.
“Some people have spun this issue that the city is kicking them off, the city is tossing them out. They were on a lease that had terms and they didn’t act promptly enough to renew it. There is a significant difference between that and kicked out,” Tandy said.
We contacted Kern County Animal Control Director Jen Woodard who was not available to speak to us in person, but did release this statement: “Moving a shelter this size in such a short time is an overwhelming task and we are so thankful there have been many organizations and individuals that have already reached out to us for support.”
Workers say they have already seen adoption numbers increase this week alone and are counting on volunteers to help with the move and short-term emergency fosters to temporarily care for the animals.
“It’s pretty unfortunate. I think that the county and the city haven’t been able to get along for a while and hopefully they can come to a conclusion so these innocent animals don’t’ have to be put to sleep,” said Jessica Gacs who is looking to adopt a pet.
The plan for now is to offer adoption promotions through out the month of September to encourage people to find permanent homes for these pets.