Fresno City Council creates Animal Center Department to take over animal control

Thursday’s vote by the city council was years in the making, highlighted by the opening of the Fresno Animal Center last year in an effort to drop euthanization rates.

Animal control services in Fresno will soon be taken care of in-house. 

Thursday, the Fresno City Council established the Animal Center Department to transition animal control from Fresno Humane Animal Services (FHAS). 


The backstory: The move for the city to take over animal control started years ago with public outcry about euthanasia rates at the CCSPCA, which was contracted with the city for animal control.

  • That resulted in the city completing the Fresno Animal Center last year by Fresno Yosemite International Airport, which has been run by Fresno Humane Animal Services with the intention of the city taking it over eventually. 

The big picture: FHAS’s contract with the city is set to expire at the end of November, leading the city to create the Animal Center Department on Thursday in preparation of the takeover. 

  • The department will be funded by $6.7 million that was reclassified on Thursday from the General Purpose Department in the budget. 
  • The city will transfer two positions from the General Purpose Department to the Animal Center Department. Those are the only two city employees who currently work at the Fresno Animal Center. 
  • There will also be 75 new positions created to run the department. City staff said Thursday that while the existing staff at the animal center are not employees, the goal is to have a continuity of operations and not disrupt the current setup. Animal Center employees will have to apply for a job with the city when the department starts hiring. 
  • There currently is no on-site veterinarian at the Animal Center as FHAS contracts out for veterinary services. The city plans to hire a veterinarian to have on-site when the takeover is complete. 

What they’re saying: One thing the city will focus on is boosting the adoption rate at the center, which was 17 percent during Fiscal Year 2023. 

  • “We will work very hard to increase that, but I do want to remind the council that adoption is just a band-aid on a gushing wound,” said Assistant City Manager Alma Torres. “So our goal here will be that we tackle the root of the problem, and that is to utilize data to see how we can actually provide resources to those residents that feel that they need to surrender their animal.” 
  • Torres said the goal of the Animal Center is to not euthanize the animals, something the staff has “been doing an amazing job” at. 
  • “We’re moving in the right direction,” said Councilman Garry Bredefeld. “Clearly from years ago from where we were to where we are today it’s miles from where we were, and I think it’s positive. But we’ve still got a long way to go to address it.”
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