Bakersfield shelter faces eviction

CoxA county-run animal shelter in Bakersfield, Calif., is facing eviction by the end of the month, and officials there are trying to find new homes for unadopted animals before they are forced to relocate.

That’s where the Columbia Humane Society comes in.

Dean Cox, executive director of the St. Helens shelter, announced in a since-deleted blog post last Wednesday, Sept. 11, that the group will try to adopt a number of dogs from the Kern County Animal Control shelter in Bakersfield.

“Being a no-kill shelter puts us in a potentially precarious situation when accepting large breed adult dogs. Along with these dogs come their stereotypes, biases and particular behavior traits,” Cox wrote. “We need to be part of the selection process in order to [ensure] successful adoptions when we transport them to our community. Which [means] we need to go to Bakersfield to be part of the selection process.”

Cox said Monday, Sept. 16, he and another staff member plan to fly to California on Sunday to visit shelters and determine which dogs can be transferred out of a group of 19 taken in by the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, an anti-euthanasia group in Los Angeles that partners with the Columbia Humane Society and other no-kill shelters around the country.

“At this point, there have been animals that have been removed from the Bakersfield facility, that then went to Heigl’s facility, that are coming to Columbia County,” said Cox.

Many of the dogs are receiving veterinary care, and one of them has already succumbed to illness, Cox said. To prevent diseases from being introduced into the Columbia Humane Society’s general population, he said, the animals may be kept in Los Angeles for 30 days before being moved north in a specialized van.

“The hope is, with a 30-day isolation period, that anything infectious would be expressed before they ever came to Oregon and came into our facility,” Cox said.

Kern County Animal Control has stated on its Facebook page that it will relocate and care for unadopted animals, but it is actively working to adopt out or transfer to “rescue partners” as many animals as possible before its eviction date.

In St. Helens, the Columbia Humane Society’s effort to take in dogs from Bakersfield has been receiving interest and support from the community, Cox said.

“I’m always amazed at what this community and the people in it will do to help the humane society and the animals,” said Cox.

The dogs from Bakersfield will be identified as such as the Columbia Humane Society works to adopt them out to families, Cox indicated.

“I think the way we’ll talk about them is ‘Bakersfield Bob’ and ‘Bakersfield Sophie’ ... to single them out,” said Cox.

Bakersfield will open its own animal care facility after its agreement with Kern County ends Sept. 30, according to a city statement released last month.

Neither Kern County Animal Control nor the Heigl Foundation responded to requests for comment.

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