Visalia animal shelter risks reaching capacity after expanding services

Visalia Animal Control shelter comes close to reaching capacity with expansion to Exeter and Farmersville leading to increased risk of euthanasia

By Nancy Vigran Reporter for the Sun-Gazette

TULARE COUNTY – As of Nov. 1, Visalia Animal Control has taken on a higher work load, now providing Exeter and Farmersville with an animal control officer, as well as providing kenneling for stray animals from those cities.

The 17,000-square foot facility opened in October, 2015 providing kenneling for Visalia and Dinuba. Prior to its own facility, Visalia had long contracted with Valley Oak SPCA for kenneling services. The Visalia facility can accommodate approximately 100 dogs and 100 cats.

For the past year, the Visalia facility has seen approximately 200 to 400 dogs per month, and very few cats, said Ivy Ruiz, animal services supervisor. The number has varied from 20 to 86 dogs at one time.

From Nov. 1 – 10, the shelter had seen 15 dogs come in from Exeter and Farmerville combined, she said.

For anyone who has followed the Visalia Animal Control on social media, there are postings, some times daily, indicating a wide variety of rescuers coming by and picking up a few or many dogs at one time. Visalia Animal Control avidly uses its Facebook page to share animals picked up by officers and which city they have from. They also share posts of animals available for adoption.

“Kenneling at our facility has been going well since the contract started with Exeter and Farmersville,” Ruiz said. “Our staff does an excellent job at networking the animals that are available to rescues near and far.”

Recent Facebook postings, on November 6, indicated the shelter was nearing capacity for canines.

“The shelter is almost full if you are missing a pet from Visalia, Dinuba, Farmersville, Exeter please come to the shelter and look we will not do ID over the phone you must show up in person to identify your pet,” some posts stated.

Another Nov. 6 post stated, “Up for euthanasia, in need of rescue or a family to adopt.” It was later deleted.

Most any animal control facility and shelter faces criticism from its local community. Seemingly they cannot do enough, by animal lovers’ standards. However, Visalia Animal Control does take pride in its work with animal rescuers from around the state and beyond. On Nov. 10, an Oregon-based rescue came down to pick up six dogs, according to a post the following day.

“From time to time we do reach capacity, which is why it is very important for animal owners to be responsible and spay and neuter their pets, license and microchip them as well,” Ruiz said. “With a very slight increase in animal intake [from Exeter and Farmersville], the lifeline for these animals will remain the same. We truly exhaust all resources before euthanizing a healthy, adoptable animal which is how we have been able to decrease the number of euthanasia in the past few years.”

The decision for Exeter to contract for Visalia’s services came with the retirement of its longtime staff animal control officer. Farmersville felt it was a good opportunity to sign up, as well.

“It is more than a cost savings, it adds more flexibility,” said Farmersville’s Mayor Paul Boyer.

Call times should be shortened, and licensing will again be in effect, something the city had not been currently keeping up with the added benefit of which is the necessity of keeping dogs current on rabies vaccinations, Boyer added.

Farmersville had a part-time animal control officer. Exeter’s officer worked part time for other facets of the City, and handling animal control. Now, there is to be one dedicated officer full time to service both cities, according to a news release included with the Exeter’s utility billings the beginning of the month. The response time for animal control-related calls should be within 15-20 minutes, the notice stated.

To reach animal control for a sick, injured, stray, or vicious dog, residents within Exeter, Farmersville, Dinuba, or Visalia should call 559-713-4957. For kennel information, the number is 559-713-4700, Wednesday – Friday, 12 to 6 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 12 to 5 p.m. The shelter is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

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