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FRESNO, Calif. (KMPH) -
The city's new plan to take over animal control services will leave the fate of unwanted and stray cats to the streets.
In a couple of weeks, the city of Fresno will take over animal control.
The SPCA stops doing it October 1st.
Now the city is scoping out a new shelter site, but it won't include space for cats.
"Under state law, we are not mandated to deal with cats," said Fresno Assistant City Manager Bruce Rudd.
The city needs to build a temporary animal shelter – one possible location is the parking lot of the old Fresno County morgue.
The plan is to set up 150 kennels and a portable office outdoors.
"If a cat's out roaming the neighborhoods, and if an animal control officer sees it, unless it's a public safety threat, they're not going to have to deal with the cat population in a different way, if not, we're going to be euthanizing just as many animals and nobody wants that," said Rudd.
He says the city's research shows 90% of cats brought into shelters are euthanized and taking cats in would mean animals won't get the level of care they need at the new shelter.
The city says it will advise people who want to turn unwanted pets, to go to local rescue groups first. But some rescues fear the city's plan will only lead to higher euthanasia rates.
"Not all the rescues are going to be able to take all those animals. So euthanasia rates are going to go up, not only for dogs, but also for cats. It's going to be an overpopulation crisis here, with the shelters, people are going to call and they're not going to have a place to take their animals," said Kelly Joos, executive director of Valley Animal Center, a no-kill shelter that takes in dogs and cats.
Joos says right now, animal control officers take in about 180 animals in the Fresno area every day.
"You're just going to see a lot of dead kittens, a lot of dead cats on the streets. You're going to see them in alleys where they're starving and malnourished and in situations where humanely, it might be better to put them down," said Joos.
Rudd tells KMPH, he is also considering another site in the city of Fresno, that is more central, and easier for the public to get to. It would be an outdoor facility as well.
But details are still being worked out and the city will reveal the other site by Friday.
Liberty Animal Services is the only organization that has bid to take over animal control services for the city and county.
That contract is not finalized yet, and it is asking for about a million dollars more than what the city paid the Central California SPCA.
Rudd says the city plans to negotiate the price to around $3.2 million, and he's confident they'll be on board and ready to go by October 1st.