BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Welcoming home a new furry friend was the trendy thing to do during the pandemic. But now that restrictions have eased, a local animal shelter is pleading for the public’s help as their high-capacity rates could cause them to make some very tough decisions in the near future.
Some of the dogs at the shelter have been locked inside tight spaces for nearly 4 months desperately looking for their forever home. It’s the cry for help often heard outside kennel doors. More than 200 dogs are compacted into one shelter.
“It breaks our heart because a lot of these dogs you can tell had homes. They know how to sit. They know how to be good dogs. They know how to walk on a leash. And people just aren’t coming from them,” said Nicole Gitzke from the Bakersfield Animal Care Center.
Gitzke said the Bakersfield Animal Care Center is now pleading for help from the community to avoid an ending no one wants to see.
“We are running out of space. And unfortunately, that means we’re gonna have to make some very serious decisions about these dogs,” said Gitzke.
Some of these decisions have already come down to moving animals into smaller spaces. Their longest resident has been in a confined space for over 100 days.
But those harder decisions may come down to life or death.
“We never want euthanasia to be the answer or something that we turn to. Especially during a critical need like this. That’s why we reached out to the community. So, we don’t have to make those critical decisions,” said Gitzke.
These concerns are not just felt in Kern County.
“All rescues and shelters across the US are currently experiencing space issues,” said Marley’s Mutts in a statement to 23ABC.
“It’s heartbreaking to know that at some point they had a home and now they don’t. They’re locked in a kennel, a shelter,” said Gitzke.
Gitzke said at the peak of the pandemic, the shelter had 40 dogs at most under their care. Some shelters nationally got down to zero. But as lockdowns began to ease those numbers began multiplying.
“Everyone was home. So, they picked up a dog and they fostered or adopted it. And when they went back to work, they said okay well we can’t take care of you anymore,” said Gitzke.
This is why Gitzke urges the community to foster or adopt a pet only unless that adoption is a lifetime commitment.
“If you don’t have the full commitment of adopting, please consider fostering. Whether it be a week two weeks or a month. It just helps make room in our facility so we can keep helping those dogs in need,” said Gitzke.
All dogs 5-years-old and older will be free for the month of November while every other dog and cat under 5 will be $10.
If you do adopt a dog, the shelter will also provide free training for up to a week, with lifetime discounts.