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.
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.