Every two weeks Kern County Animal Services (KCAS) hosts a volunteer-led event named Streets of Bakersfield where shelter pets can be taken out of their kennels and see parts of the town.
Kern Sol was able to participate in early January and met up with a female dog named Prunella. She had been recently pregnant, and despite being surrendered she was in good health. Due to overpopulation and a lack of resources, Prunella has now been given days to live according to a phone call with Kern Sol and a KCAS volunteer.
Maegan Allen volunteers for the Streets of Bakersfield dog program and other departments with KCAS. She spoke with Kern Sol about the animal population crisis, during the Streets of Bakersfield event.
“Since we came out of Covid it’s been high- very high,” stated Allen.
Allen shared that in the past months, the shelter was impacted by Streptococcus Zooepidemicus or “Strep Zoo.” This caused doors to close to the public for days while the shelter underwent a deep clean. Unfortunately, new intakes of pets needing shelter were paused during the outbreak.
Solutions KCAS volunteers and staff are focusing on is canvassing the neighborhoods. Kern SAFE Animal Coalition is another group of volunteers who help by going door to door to spread awareness about low-cost spay and neuter services and when vaccine clinics are available.
The next available SNIP mobile spay and neuter clinic will be in Bakersfield on January 17th, February 15th, and February 28th. SOS Dog Rescue and KCAS sponsor the event, and by checking out their social media you can find more information.
Social media involvement at KCAS has been more active this year than any other year. This has aided many shelter pet adoptions thanks to getting positive exposure. There has also been an increase in volunteers according to Allen.
Many dog and pet advocates acknowledge the lack of accountability among the owners and their surrounding communities.
“Trying to hold on to your dog. Some people…Sometimes people will return their dogs for reasons that there are solutions to. If dogs are fighting over food, you can feed them separately- that’s a solution,” said Allen.
Ways the public can help are by donating intentionally and looking into the KCAS Amazon wishlist or seasonal needs, filling out a short-term foster application to be eligible for events like Streets of Bakersfield, and advocating for pets to be spayed and neutered.
“The other aspect [of the event] I think is really beneficial is that the community then realizes and knows what’s going on because not every dog that goes out for Streets of Bakersfield is going to be here two weeks later. They do still become at risk for euthanasia, and I’ve had some people come in assuming that we’re still in a no-kill status and that’s not the case,” Allen said.
The city of Bakersfield has recently implemented four new ordinances in hopes of lowering rates of euthanasia in animal shelters and improving animal control. The new ordinances will focus on dog licensing, kennel regulations, mandatory spay or neuter services for all dogs over six months old, and regulations for all individuals who plan on breeding or selling dogs.
During the December 13, 2023 City Council meeting several residents who own “show dogs” claimed that the ordinances would add unnecessary fees and that fixing their pets or spaying and neutering them would possibly make them ineligible for competitions.
However, the new city ordinances allow exemptions for pet owners to keep their furry friends unaltered.
Natasha Felkins, a resident of East Bakersfield spoke at the meeting in support of the ordinances.
“I do not profit off of animals, but I very much am compassionate towards animals and I cannot leave my house to go to work or anywhere in my area or downtown or almost anywhere in Kern county without seeing abandoned animals,” Felkins stated.
For Felkins, the language of the new regulations and ordinances passed gives hope that it will result in positive change.
Another resident who spoke stated that being a local realtor motivated her to get into rescuing dogs because she saw the needy dogs on properties she worked with. She mentioned that the ordinances can be the first step in delegating entities that will enforce the regulations, and get accountability.