Fresno Animal Center’s overcrowding crisis in better shape

The city took drastic action late last year to deal with a massive influx of cats and dogs.

After facing an overcrowding crisis last December, the Fresno Animal Center less than half of the number of animals it was sheltering. 

The decrease comes after the city hit pause on taking in healthy stray animals. 


The backstory: Fresno officially took over animal control last December when it took control of the Fresno Animal Center after establishing the Animal Center Department. 

  • Shortly after taking over operations, the city found the shelter vastly overcrowded, and UC Davis veterinarian staff was very concerned at the time about the health of the animals. 
  • The shelter was designed to hold 128 dogs, yet had over 500 dogs on Nov. 30 and an additional 149 cats. 
  • The city responded by rejecting all healthy lost animals and waiving all adoption fees to encourage the public to adopt. 
  • Fresno was also in a bind when it took over animal control operations because the eight people who made up the Fresno Animal Center’s management team did not transition over to city employment. 

State of play: The shelter took in 1,113 dogs and cats from December through February and was able to adopt out 402 of them and placed 658 of them with local rescues. 

  • There were 136 dogs and cats returned to their owners, and the Animal Center euthanized 271, which were for severe illness, injury or behavior issues. 
  • The Fresno Animal Center had 301 animals as of Feb. 29 – 245 dogs and 56 cats. 

Driving the news: According to a presentation given to the Fresno City Council on Thursday, Fresno County has the highest per capita intake among the largest intake counties throughout California. 

  • Fresno ranked fifth in total animal intake in 2023 at 20,138 dogs and cats, behind Los Angeles, Riverside San Diego and Sacramento Counties. 
  • But Fresno ranked first in California at 10 intakes per 1,000 residents. 
  • The city has also approved 77 full-time positions and completed 18 recruitments. Fresno has also hired one veterinarian, solving a major issue from last year and has interviews scheduled for a second veterinarian scheduled. 

What they’re saying: City Manager Georgeanne White said she was surprised to see that the city still brought in over 1,100 animals from December through February despite limiting intakes to diseased and injured animals. 

  • “The fact that we are still bringing in this many animals into our center, I think tells me we definitely made the right decision,” White said. “Because if you look at what the outcomes are, as I said very starkly on that day, we don’t want healthy animals brought into the center. It will not have a good outcome.”
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