Fresno Animal Center overcrowded, city to stop taking in healthy strays

The city is nearing a breaking point with the new shelter after bringing animal control in-house.

Fresno is pressing pause on taking in stray animals to its new animal shelter as it takes time to curb a budding crisis. 

The Fresno City Council approved a resolution Thursday reducing the intake of healthy animals to the Fresno Animal Shelter, which has become vastly overpopulated and is leading to serious health concerns for the animals on-site. 


The backstory: Fresno started the move to take over animal control and bring it in-house two years ago after publicly outcry about the euthanization rates at the CCSPCA. 

  • The Fresno Animal Center opened last year near Fresno Yosemite International Airport and has been run by Fresno Humane Animal Services. 
  • In September the city council established the Animal Center Department to complete the city’s takeover of animal control. 

Driving the news: The city took over operations of the Fresno Animal Center on Dec. 1 and had been anticipating that the shelter management would be transitioning over to city employment. But within a couple weeks before Dec. 1, the city learned that the eight people who make up the shelter’s management team would not stay on with the city, putting the city in a bind. 

  • The shelter is designed to have room for 128 dogs, yet there are currently around 600 dogs being held in the kennels. 
  • UC Davis veterinarian staff came to the city’s aid when called to examine the situation and was very concerned about the health of the animals in the shelter given the overcrowding and the lack of staff to care for them. UC Davis staff recommended that the city immediately started to reduce the intake of animals. 
  • State law requires that the city pick up vicious, disease and injured animals, but does not require the city to take in healthy strays. 

The big picture: Fresno will reject all healthy lost animals and is temporarily pausing city law that limits the number of cats and dogs residents can have at four in order to not penalize those who are helping the city deal with the dire situation. 

  • Next week the council will return with a resolution to give City Manager Georgeanne White the flexibility and authority she needs to manage the animal control issue, including putting urgency grant programs together to assist shelters that are helping the city. 

What they’re saying: “We have a crisis, and the health of the animals is poor right now,” White said. “But even scarier is we are this close with that many animals to having disease flow through that center, and that would be catastrophic. I know none of us ever like to talk about euthanasia, because that was one of the things that people were so critical about SPCA were their high euthanasia rates, but if we have a mass outbreak of something that is devastating at the center. That’s what we will be looking at.”

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