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Looking After the Abandoned: Local volunteer group grows worried for stray animals as days heat up

Summers in Bakersfield are notorious for heat, but what happens to the abandoned animals? A local volunteer group is working to ensure they have access to food and clean water.
Posted at 5:05 AM, May 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-15 12:45:40-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Transient, abandoned dogs frequent the orchards. A local group of volunteers stops by at least three times per week to ensure they're taken care of, but as summer approaches, they grow concerned.

  • Video shows 23ABC'S Grace Laverriere along one of the feeding routes with the local volunteer group, Friends of Abandoned Dogs.
  • The volunteers travel around Bakersfield feeding stray dogs, but as summer approaches, they're concerned about the impact heat will have on the transient animals. Water is a main concern, they say, and they encourage people to keep water in vehicles in case they come across a dog in the heat.
  • During the summer, they say to keep the dogs cool, give them lots of water and find shade.
  • The group relies on donations to keep up with the amount of food and water they distribute across the city. More information on the organization can be found on their website, bakersfieldstrays.org.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

Areas in Southeast Bakersfield are known for agricultural fields, but unfortunately, they're also known for something else. Transient, abandoned dogs frequent the orchards. A local group of volunteers stops by at least three times per week to ensure they're taken care of, but as summer approaches, they grow concerned.

“I say a little prayer before I leave that I’m protected and the dogs are protected…and that I don’t see any dogs,” Melissa Hutton said.

23ABC'S Grace Laverriere asked: "Someone said, ‘A day where we don’t see dogs is a good day’…why is that?"

“Because when you see a dog and you aren’t able to capture it, or it doesn't slow down for you to be able to give it food—you don’t know where that dog goes," Hutton responded.

Three times a week for the past two years, Melissa Hutton loads up a car with hundreds of pounds of dog food and water and travels to different spots around Bakersfield.

She’s an animal lover and says she wanted to do something to fill her heart after losing her husband.

So, she began volunteering with the local group, Friends of Abandoned Dogs, to ensure stray dogs were still taken care of.

“Dogs become very transient. They're looking for food," Hutton said. "So, what we want to do is keep them safe [by] keeping them off of roads and highways.”

Since she started volunteering, she says she’s seen first-hand how dire animal care is in Kern County.

“And then you see it, it really hits you in the face," Hutton said. "I’ve seen people throw dogs out of cars and the dog follows…we’ve found dead dogs in dog food bags--large dog food bags.”

“It’s a love-hate relationship," Hutton continued. "Because you can’t believe that humans would do these things.”

But, the volunteer group has been able to rescue dogs, get them spayed and neutered, and even placed in new homes.

“When you save a dog, that fills your heart,” Hutton said.

As the dog food hit the tin pan on Tuesday morning, Ryan Cunningham began his fourth training shift as a new volunteer along the feeding route. He says there's just about 36 stops along this route.

It was just past 8:45 a.m., and the sun was already beaming down in East Bakersfield, raising concern for the warm summer ahead.

“Water. It’s always about the water, keeping them cool and finding shade for them,” Cunningham said.

The group went out with around 350 pounds of dog food and many gallons of water, and they say as the days grow hotter, they encourage people to keep water in their cars in case they come across dogs in the heat.

More information about the volunteer group, and ways to donate, can be found on their website, bakersfieldstrays.org, or their Facebook Group.


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