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Autumn Parry / The Californian

A group of pit bull puppies sleep together in their cage at the County of Kern Animal Shelter one recent Tuesday.

Kern County Animal Control's budget has nearly doubled in seven years with no benefit to the animals.

The agency's budget climbed from $3.9 million in the 2006-2007 fiscal year to $8.1 million this year. At the same time, Kern's euthanasia rate has remained at about 62 percent.

The county has consistently taken in about 30,000 animals each year over that time period and it has consistently killed about 20,000 animals each year.

Meanwhile, the Board of Supervisors has increased funding for license enforcement, spay/neuter vouchers, free pet ID microchips and aggressive adoption efforts.

The biggest jump in funding came in the past two years as supervisors upgraded Animal Control from a subsidiary of other county departments to a standalone department whose director reports straight to them.

That entailed adding high-dollar administrative staff, fiscal positions and others, such as a new $74,998-a-year volunteer coordinator. Supervisors increased the number of shelter workers as well.

Those positions and programs are mostly reactive and do nothing to stem the avalanche of unwanted animals into county shelters.

"There's got to be better ways of doing it than the way we are doing it now," Kern County Supervisor Mick Gleason acknowledged. "I'm open to any and all solutions."

-- James Burger