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Rescues make Shafter's animal shelter bare

The Shafter Animal Shelter has a unique situation when it comes to city animal shelters – they have a shortage of adoptable dogs at the site.

In the past six months, the shelter has not put any pets available for adoption on their website. This is due to the rescue partners that the city deals with, accounting for all of their available dogs. There are some cats available, however, as they are not rescued.

Recently, the shelter had a dozen dogs in the shelter, but all but one of them were designated for rescue. The animals are transported to the rescue organization, where they will be sent to foster homes to be cared for until they are matched up with a suitable home.

The one dog that was in the shelter not designated for the rescue was an owner/surrender animal, with the owners not being able to care for the animal because it had escaped from the home numerous times.

According to Karlina Gomez, an animal control officer for the department, the animals have a very quick turnaround from arriving at the shelter to being transported to their rescue homes.

When asked why the shelter decided to put so many of their dogs into the rescue, Gomez said that it is really in the best interest of the animals. "Honestly, we were getting frustrated because we would adopt an animal out and would see it back at the shelter in a month or two."

Gomez said that the owners wouldn't follow the instructions given by the shelter staff, and don't have any sort of training in how to care for the animals. "The owners would bring the animal back because they either changed their mind, or didn't realize how much time and care it takes to raise a pet, so we would get it back at the shelter." She also said that it is more difficult to adopt the animals out once they have left the shelter and then brought back. "A lot of the times they are not socialized, so they may not get along with the other animals, or maybe they weren't encouraged to listen to commands and trained properly."

This philosophy does help the dogs who are in the shelter find a suitable forever home once they have been fostered and found a good family to go to, Gomez explained. But to some, it seems like a snub of the community.

"I love dogs and have looked on the website at the adoptable dogs for the past two months and haven't seen any. I don't think that it is right that they assume that all residents would make bad pet owners and don't give them a chance to have a new family member," said resident Rosa Ramirez. "My kids were wanting a dog for a long time but we ended up getting a dog from a shelter in Bakersfield because we could never find any at the Shafter shelter."

According to Nick Riddick, animal control officer, there is a wish list that they have for residents who are looking for a specific breed of dog. "If we get a certain kind of dog in the shelter and it matches one that is on the wish list, we will contact the prospective owner to set up a meeting."

Those interested in learning more about the program, can contact the shelter at 661-746-2140.


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