BAKERSFIELD - Pet overpopulation is a major problem affecting the Kern County Animal Shelter.
With hundreds of new animals coming into the shelter every day, staff says there is simply not enough room.
But, that's not the only concern. Come September, city officials may take over the shelter on Mount Vernon Avenue if they can't reach an agreement with the county.
"It's a continual problem. Overcrowding at the shelter is a microcosm of overcrowding of the animals in Kern County. It's always a problem," said Nick Cullen, Animal Shelter Supervisor.
It's a problem the shelter sees too often. Last month, the shelter took in 1,865 dogs. It only has 174 dog kennels.
As for cats, it took in 1,511, a bigger number than the nearly 120 cages it has for cats and puppies.
17 News spoke with Director Jen Woodard about this, earlier this month. "We're getting in hundreds of animals and we don't have spaces for them and so we do have to pair them," said Woodard. "We do have to be creative, and unfortunately many of them are euthanized at this time because of a lack of space."
Last year, the shelter euthanized approximately 17,000 animals and has a save rate of 30 to 35 percent.
With space being a major issue, staff says they have to be creative and find new places to house animals.
"We just have to use spaces that maybe were not intended to house animals in the first place, but we can still do so safely so we use it," said Cullen.
One of those places is the lobby, where you're greeted by cats right when you walk in.
Staff will also add another tier to the Cat Room when they run out of space.
"Any of these kennels you walk through, you can see some of the kennels may have 10, 11, 12 little dogs each. That's a lot of dogs to put into one kennel. Although we do the effort to pair them appropriately, it also makes it so people have trouble looking at one dog in a kennel when there's ten of them," continued Woodard.
But, that's not the only issue at the shelter. Some say there's also a lack of communication.
The county shelter sits on city land, and the one-year agreement with the city expired last month. City officials say they haven't heard from shelter staff since May.
The city and county have plans to run a joint animal shelter at the current Mount Vernon location. But, that requires a new agreement.
"If the county and city are unable to enter into this two-year interim agreement to facilitate the future plan that we came up with, we would end up separating at that time," said Steven Teglia, Assistant to the City Manager. "The city would take over the existing facility and we would do the renovations that we think are needed and we would operate a city shelter."
After the agreement expired last month, the county requested a three-month extension.
Woodard told 17 News Thursday afternoon there hasn't been a lot of communication with the city because county officials are considering the two-year agreement.
She said a letter was sent Thursday to the city manager's office to discuss an additional one-year extension and whether a joint shelter would be best for the county.