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Animal control provider to part ways with Fresno. What will the city do?

A dead cat, wild dogs, angry residents: Hear Fresno City Council take on SPCA over animal services

The city of Fresno's contract with SPCA is nearing $4 million. That accounts for animal intake, animal control officers and other services. The city and the SPCA's relationship appears frayed in this City Council exchange.
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The city of Fresno's contract with SPCA is nearing $4 million. That accounts for animal intake, animal control officers and other services. The city and the SPCA's relationship appears frayed in this City Council exchange.

The nonprofit that picks up Fresno’s stray animals, performs pet adoptions and maintains the local animal shelter says its job with the city is ending.

Central California Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals officials said Wednesday the organization will not apply for an extension of its contract with the city.

The organization’s contract with the city ends in June.

“After much consideration and reflection, the Central California SPCA decided not to bid on the city of Fresno’s Animal Control (request for qualifications) in June,” a statement from the organization said.

“We did not submit a termination letter to the city of Fresno. We will continue to be Fresno’s contracted animal control service provider through June 2020, taking in an average 70+ animals a day.”

The Fresno City Council approved a $4 million one-year contract for the SPCA in June. But some council members complained about the level of service provided by the animal advocacy group.

Since 2014, the contract cost has increased about $1 million for cost-of-living raises and minimum-wage increases.

Fresno doesn’t own the SPCA animal shelter, so officials are now looking at options for building the city’s own, according to Mayor Lee Brand.

Three properties have risen to the top. The includes two potential industrial sites along Highway 99 and another near Fresno-Yosemite International Airport.

All three are away from homes and could make good locations for a 30,000-square-foot shelter, Brand said.

Still, the plans are preliminary and would need City Council approval, Brand stressed.

Building a shelter could cost around $15 million. Costs would be significantly more if the chosen site had no existing infrastructure, Brand said.

Fresno Humane Animal Services, UC Davis and others have been asked to consult the city on its plans.

A decade-long bond is probably the city’s best option for paying for the new shelter, Brand said. With that comes finding new revenue streams.

“The good news is that this would be a big improvement. We appreciate all the work the SPCA did for a number of years in a very difficult situation in Fresno,” Brand said. “This would give a clean start, but we’d need a one-year extension.”

Brand said he’s optimistic officials can convince SPCA to stick around until the new shelter is complete.

The one-year contract still in place covers 13 animal control officers plus a supervisor, seven customer service agents, one intake coordinator, a veterinarian, animal care assistants and more.

City leaders and the nonprofit have butted heads before. The rocky history dates back most recently to 2011 and 2012.

Facing harsh criticism from animal advocates and politicians over euthanasia rates, the SPCA threatened to end contracts with both Fresno County and the city of Fresno.

County leaders eventually opted for another service provider, but the city maintained its agreement with SPCA.

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Reporter Thaddeus Miller has covered cities in the central San Joaquin Valley since 2010, writing about everything from breaking news to government and police accountability. A native of Fresno, he joined The Fresno Bee in 2019 after time in Merced and Los Banos.
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