New rules for separate animal shelters

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) They may have separate animals shelters now, but Bakersfield and Kern County are still arguing over the topic.

On Tuesday, the Kern County Board of Supervisors decided to only take animals from county areas at their new facility, since that's what the city is doing. But, the board also asked their citizen commission to look for common ground.

"Ultimately, (we'll) hopefully come up with some viable solutions that we can present to both the city and the county," Janice Anderson said. She's the current chair of the Kern County Animal Control Commission.

The first issue they'll tackle is the intake of animals at the two shelters. That's the latest bone of contention.

The county opened its new, separate shelter on Fruitvale Avenue last week. Since then, the city has started to set up shop in the site on Mt. Vernon Avenue, which had been used as a joint facility.

The two government bodies parted ways regarding animal control matters over cost-sharing disputes.

The city is now taking only animals from city residents, and Tuesday the board directed interim county animal services director Shyanne Schull to do the same.

"As of now, we'll take in only county animals." she said, adding that the county will also require identification from people surrendering animals, since that's what the city's doing.

At the city site, the SPCA will operate the shelter. Bakersfield SPCA executive director Julie Johnson told Eyewitness News the changes haven't been an issue.

If someone comes in with an animal, they try to verify where that person lives.

"If it's a stray animal, we're directing them to the county animal shelter," she said. "We really haven't had any issues with residents coming in and being upset."

But, county leaders worry that will force people to drive across town to the other locations. Schull said the county had offered a 24-hour hold period, and then a transfer later to the appropriate shelter. Schull said her department hopes the city will "reconsider" that proposal.

On Tuesday, Schull was directed to write a letter to the mayor and Bakersfield City Council outlining the county's concerns. On Tuesday, Steve Teglia, assistant to the Bakersfield city manager, said he can't comment on the board's action until they get that letter.

"I think realistically the city in a sense has almost drawn a line in the sand," Citizen Commission Chair Janice Anderson said. "And I find that unfortunate."

But, on Tuesday Supervisor Mick Gleason also asked her group to work on these issues.

"I'm appreciative of that," Anderson said. "I think our members have valuable input that can help through these processes."

Her group's next meeting is Oct. 16, and Anderson is working on an agenda of things the commission can go over. She says the group can then take suggestions to the Bakersfield City Council.

"I think as there's a meeting of the minds, we're going to see movement on both sides to come to some unified decisions concerned ultimately with the intake of these animals," Anderson said. "Realistically, the county should take county (animals) the city should take city. And so, we have to come to terms of what that understanding is on both sides."