“We Are a Kill Shelter” Declares Orange Cove Police Chief

According to a FOCAS member, “This dog doesn’t have a blanket and is terrified. The crate is on the concrete floor and it’s cold at night”

After four years of running a no-kill shelter with the help of Friends of the Orange Cove Animal Shelter (FOCAS) the city has reverted back to its old ways.

At the February 12 City Council meeting, Orange Cove Chief of Police Marty Rivera presented a short monthly activity report on the city’s animal shelter. Rivera reported that for the month of January animal control caught 22 dogs, out of which 9 were euthanized. Eleven were turned over to their owners.

The police department took over running the animal shelter after the city council terminated FOCUS’ contract last year.

Sheila Lindquist, a member of FOCAS, asked if the dogs that were euthanized were sick or if the city just didn’t want to take care of them. Rivera responded by saying that one was almost dead.

Lindquist then rhetorically asked if the Orange Cove Animal Shelter has gone from a no-kill shelter to a kill shelter.

Rivera responded, “We are a kill shelter.”

“That’s sad,” responded Lindquist.

Life after FOCAS

On October 9 of last year the city council voted to terminate FOCAS’ contract to run the animal shelter. FOCAS’ last day was December 10. The city indicated at the time that it will euthanize dogs that overstay their hold and it has kept its promise.

Linquist asked Rivera how long the dogs were kept before they were euthanized and he responded by saying that the law says they have to hold the dogs 72 hours, but that they keep some longer.

When Lindquist inquired about how much it costs to adopt a dog Rivera referred her to city hall. But he did add that dogs ready for adoption are updated on a daily basis on the city’s website.

Conditions inside the Orange Cove Animal Shelter

Lindquist expressed doubt to the Voice about the city being able or willing to find homes for the dogs because often no one is available at the shelter and visitors are not allowed inside where the dogs are kept. Also, the 72-hour period is to give owners time to find their pets and the dogs cannot be adopted out during this time frame. It is apparent that soon after the hold most unclaimed dogs are put down.

Lindquist suspects that visitors are not allowed inside the shelter because it is in such bad shape. When FOCAS ran the facility it kept the dogs in their own kennels in a covered area outside because of the poor condition of the building.

Suspicious that the dogs were just being taken somewhere and shot because of lack of funds, Lindquist asked Rivera what method of euthanasia the city used. Rivera said that the city sends their dogs to a vet in Selma to put them down but did not know the name. Because of Lindquist’s concerns, The Valley Voice did confirm that the South County Veterinary Hospital in Selma did in fact handle the euthanasias for Orange Cove.

Lindquist says she believes that the city has taken in numerous other dogs and handed them over to the public without scanning for microchips, neutering or spaying, or getting proper paperwork or fees required by Fresno County.

She has done a request for public documents to get to the bottom of what happens to all the dogs,

Though the police chief was happy to answer Lindquist’s questions, a city council member was not as forthcoming and told her this was not the appropriate venue.

Adriana Figueroa, Director of FOCAS, calculated that staff time and the vet bills to put down the dogs cost the city much more than the $2500 a month they were paying FOCAS.

“This is nothing new for Orange Cove. The city just doesn’t care,” said Figueroa.

24 thoughts on ““We Are a Kill Shelter” Declares Orange Cove Police Chief

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  1. It’s just so disconcerting to hear the police chief say “we are a kill shelter” like he’s proud of it! I can’t for the life of me understand why the city would terminate their contract with FOCAS, when FOCAS was doing such a great job of caring for, and placing so many dogs with rescue partners, so they would have a second chance at a life that every dog deserves. The Orange Cove city leaders obviously have zero compassion for these dogs…it’s very hard to swallow. Since the city has taken over, the dogs are forced to sleep on freezing cold concrete, they have no blankets, no beds, and the dilapidated building has no heat and no air conditioning. It is overrun with rats and mice. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the dogs aren’t fed on weekends or holidays, since that has happened many times in the past when the city was in charge. I saw it first hand when my husband and I volunteered there several years ago. If the volunteers didn’t feed the dogs, and provide water for them on the weekends, and holidays, they went without! I think about the plight of all the stray dogs that come through that hell hole, and I am heartbroken.

  2. This is so sad 😢 and disheartening. These dogs don’t deserve to be treated this way. The Police Chief sounds very cold hearted. There has to be a way to take this out of his control especially since it was being taken care of before.

  3. The only way to change this is to increase awareness of the problem through sharing! You’re right- absolutely heartless and disgusting!! They should be ashamed of themselves advertising in this manner! Nothing to be proud of!!

  4. In regards me saying it is a “Kill Shelter” do you prefer I say it is a no-kill shelter and lie?
    I did not ask to take over the shelter I was told it would be under my control. Pictures of the shelter were posted and since the city took it over the place is not as depicted in your posts. We are doing our best to get the dogs to places that will take them . I encourage each of you to adopt a dog. I do not like them euthanized either, so you should get on the phone (like we do) and call no-kill shelters and have them take our dogs. Also I want to add that since FOCAS left and citizens here know that it is a kill shelter they are now keeping their dogs off the streets more.A special thanks to Heather’s comment.

    • Chief Rivera,
      Your pathetic commentary reminds me exactly why OC is the same little hell hole it was when I started going out there 6 years ago. No responsibility on the part of ANY branch of government for the conditions which permeate your community. When FOCAS was running the shelter, not only did we save 99% of the animals, we also help people either keep their animals or move them directly to rescue to avoid them entering the shelter at all. We also received and implemented a PetSmart Charities grant that altered over 100 community cats and dogs. What has the city done to help with the problem? Nothing. No education, no spay and neuter, no outreach. Nothing other than to sit there and blame FOCAS for animals running lose in the streets, when it was the CITY’S responsibility to perform animal control duties. Furthermore, your claiming that residents are now keeping animals contained is an outright lie, as evidenced by the number of intakes which is higher than average than when FOCAS was in charge. Your excuses are an embarrassment.

    • It is true that Chief Rivera and the Police Department did now request to take over the shelter after all they have no training or knowledge to do so. This situation does reflect how corrupt the City of Orange Cove Council is. They get to dictate who does what in this City…with zero regards to any form of life but themselves. Unlike Chief Rivera, FOCAS did sign up for the care of the stray animals of the City and did an outstanding job with the measly $2,500 a month that the city provided. Let’s not forget the horrifying building. City terminated contract and now spends more money to just kill dogs. Why?

  5. Absolutely DISPICABLE…. MEANWHILE taxpayers are paying huge money to keep RAPERS, murderers, PEDOPHILES well fed, conjugal visits, porn, EDUCATED, physical fitness, protected, etc…. absolutely DISGUSTING!!!

  6. Mr. Rivera, from your comment, I am assuming you are the police chief. Since the shelter is your responsibility, tell us, who feeds, waters, and cleans the kennels on weekends and holidays? And please be honest, because in the past when PD was in charge of the shelter, it was common practice not to feed the dogs on weekends and holidays! Why don’t the dogs have kuranda beds to keep them off of the freezing cold concrete? Why aren’t the dogs provided with blankets? How have you addressed the rat and mice problem? What is your plan for the summer when temperatures reach triple digits, and the dogs are locked inside that building with no air conditioning? Why are your city leaders so intent on keeping a volunteer group like FOCAS on the outs? These individuals were truly making a difference. Giving up their time and their own money on many occasions to care for the dogs, not to mention the donations they received from so many outside your community to care for sick and injured dogs. Animal cruelty is a felony, and we in the rescue community are watching!

    • Liz, we’ve all seen the shelter. It’s a disgrace. However, the terrible conditions didn’t prevent FOCAS from saving lives because FOCAS actually gave a damn. I highly doubt that the city has purchased any kinds of bed or bedding, not to mention the appropriate disinfecting tools. In the summer parvo is going to run rampant through that shelter. Of course they’ll just kill them anyway, but all of the dogs with owners out there will get sick as well.

  7. Apparently the citizens of Orange Cove are okay with having a kill shelter. The only other explanation would be that they too are as oppressed as the animals themselves otherwise they would be promoting, building and supporting an alternative site for any and all lost and found animals through a GoFundMe account and other pubic donations. Rivera says he doesn’t want this responsibility so what is needed is someone or some people to make the city an offer they won’t want to refuse.

    • Barbara, the city HAD an amazing group of volunteers who ran the shelter for years. We saved 99% of the animals on a whopping $30k/year. We had so many sick and injured animals that were saved and sent to new lives. Unfortunately, OC’s mayor and city council and police chief are extraordinarily petty and decided that they didn’t need to spend $30k a year on saving animals when they could spend the same amount to kill them. That is literally the mentality there.

      • Time for a televised townhall meeting. Get all your supporters to attend. Get the media to attend. Get State and local and famous animal activists to attend. Get daily protesters in picket lines going. Make a really huge stink up. Embarrass the hell out of the mayor and city council and police chief.

  8. This is so embarrassing for the city. We had something to be proud of- a no-kill shelter that was safe and well taken care of.
    We’re going backwards to the 3rd world view of animals. The city council should have spent their time and money enacting a mandatory spay/neuter program, and let the non-profit organization continue to care for and find rescues for the dogs.
    It’s obvious the police chief doesn’t want this responsibility. The Mayor and Mayor’s son are power hungry, heartless psychopaths using innocent animals to make a point.
    The citizens will have to fight back to gain control of this city- even when they are being threatened. (Otherwise Orange cove will continue onto the downward spiral towards being an embarrassing slum.)

  9. This is the author of the article. These dogs are being abused and neglected, and animal abuse always arouses heart ache and passion for our most vulnerable creatures.
    But this is a classic case of shooting the messenger. From listening to the audio of the city council meeting Police Chief Rivera was open, cooperative, and happy to answer all of Sheila’s questions and was only interrupted by the city council. He was not proud or happy of the fact that the shelter had to euthanize the dogs but just trying his best to get out the information requested.
    I doubt Mr. Rivera has the have the budget in his department to go buy blankets and bedding for the dogs, or hire the staff to take care of the dogs, or install air conditioning and heating in the decrepit building. My impression is that taking care of the animal shelter was foisted upon him and the police department by the city, and like a loyal soldier, he took an oath to do his job and is doing it to the best of his ability.
    It was the Mayor and City Council that canceled the contract with FOCUS and the negative comments should be directed towards them. If the residents of Orange Cove want a no-kill shelter and stop the abuse of these dogs then you need to quit voting the same people into office.

    • For the record I agree that Chief Rivera is only stating the statistics and was handed the job of taking orders and of caring for the shelter (which he did not ask for) by the Mayor Victor Lopez ( only under advise from his son) David Lopez. Really who goes through so much training of law enforcement to just be handed a job to scoop and feed dogs and euthanize them. What an insult and how ungrateful and selfish of the Council to just assign a job to the people who are willing to lay their lives to save the community…when they had an amazing organization already taking care of the dogs. Let’s not even mention the community hours they took away from the youth that volunteered. The awareness and education and empathy it instilled in the youth. But hey that is what the Mayor and his son is all about. David Lopez isn’t part of the council yet can interrupt a council meeting, he is the one who was allowed to interrupt Sheila’s questioning to Chief River. Chief Rivera did try to take control and answer the questions but as always… he isn’t in charge it is Mayor Lopez and Mayor Jr Lopez (David) who call the shots here… my issue is the corruption and the disregard of the welfare of animals. Why are they so hell bent on euthanizing animals instead of implementing programs to help the community they claim to want to assist? They can sweet talk all they want but they can never erase their actions. We will never go away.

      • Thanks for your added info about the Police Chief. My apologies to him. So televised townhall meeting, etc to embarrass the hell out of the Mayor and council members. Take back control of how your city is run. Vote them out.

        • I am willing to take the little dog in the picture. I can’t stand the thought of her in the cold,dirty place. I live in Missouri tho. Do you have rescue agencies that can get her to me?

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