BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The Kern County Animal Shelter is reopening after having been shut down since March. 23ABC's Austin Westfall shows us how the shelter has been managing during these trying times, and how you can look for your next pet.
Kern County Animal Services faced a pretty big challenge when the pandemic hit. New animals were still coming in, but health guidelines forbid any new adoptions. So they reached out to the community for help with fostering and the community came through in a big way.
"Over 200 animals went to foster homes. Out of those 200 animals, 85 percent of them ended up staying with their foster family so it was amazing," explained Nick Cullen, director of Kern County Animal Services.
Cullen said when the shelter took to Facebook to ask the community for help clearing their shelters, they received about 800 applications for foster. The outpouring of support helped carry the shelter through the COVID-19 crisis, but now the county's shelter on Fruitvale Avenue is slowly beginning to reopen but with a few restrictions.
"We can not take healthy cats from the community. And right now we can't accept your animal if it's your own animal and you need to surrender it."
But a lot of services are still available, many by appointment only. This includes stray dog drop off, rescue pickups, and foster pet rechecks and pickups. A select few services are still available on a walk-in basis as well.
"Like adoption. So if folks want to adopt an animal or they've lost their pet and want to see if it's here, those are services they can come to the shelter. They'll make contact with someone in front of the building."
Animal licensing and vouchers are also available at the facility. Anyone who needs to make a walk through the kennel will have to be escorted by staff, and anyone who enters the facility is required to wear a mask. A mask will be provided if you don't have one.
Cullen said the measures will stay in effect for the foreseeable future.
Only the Bakersfield on Fruitvale Avenue is open for now. The other two in Mojave and Lake Isabella will remain closed for the time being, and all animals found in those communities will be brought to the Bakersfield location.