City, county dispute root cause of animal control split

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Where do they go from here?

After a city decision to evict the county from the Mount Vernon animal shelter, the Kern County Animal Control is finding itself in search of a new home.

Barring further negotiations, the city has set a date of Sept. 30 to evict Kern County Animal Control from the city-owned shelter property.

The city has given the county the option to extend the deadline to Dec. 1, but the county is opposed to doing so, saying extending the deadline could increase the amount of animals the shelter takes in and place an additional burden on moving.

Kern County Animal Control director Jen Woodard said Thursday it will be a tough deadline to meet.

"That is a very short period of time to move about 700 animals and our complete operations. It's a very big challenge, and we're just taking it one day at a time," she said.

But, city manager Alan Tandy said the county is crying wolf.

"Why they act so shocked and horrified and distraught, when they implemented actions to the county board of supervisors to do the exact same thing two years ago, I don't quite understand," Tandy said.

The city manager said it's vital for the city to take control, citing animal rights groups' complaints against the level of care the shelter has been providing.

"It has come graphically to our attention that the county does a poor job at the shelter," Tandy said.

But, county Supervisor Zack Scrivner said the real reason for the eviction is a tax dispute.

"The fact that they would commingle these two issues and truly hold these animals hostage, so to speak, because they're upset about our tax-split dispute, I think that's really disappointing," Scrivner said.

Tandy disagreed with the county supervisor's assessment of the situation.

"In early 2012, the county launched three initiatives to take money from the city of Bakersfield. I think maybe they feel guilty about the unprovoked financial attacks they've launched at the city, and so even though the city treated them as independent issues, maybe they're second guessing themselves," Tandy said.

The Bakersfield SPCA will play a role in the new city-controlled shelter, and director Julie Johnson said Thursday that will be good for the animals.

"People will notice a presence for the level of care of animals out at the Mount Vernon location that they may not have seen previously," Johnson said.