Kern County Animal Services and the City of Bakersfield Animal Care Center tried to conduct business as usual on their first day apart since the city evicted the county from their shared animal shelter in August.
The city shelter was technically closed to walk-in animal surrenders, adoptions, and vaccinations, and occupied by an army of city workers and private contractors.
At the county shelter, a mountain of donated bedding occupied a corner of the front office, and licensing, adoptions and redemptions -- a fancy name for claiming your lost animal -- went swiftly.
One slightly odoriferous customer, Darby the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel headed home from the new county shelter after two weeks in parts unknown, his coat matted from mysterious adventures.
"I found him on their website. He's got two little girls who will be very happy to see him," said owner Kristen Logan, whose dog was now implanted with a identification microchip. "He's a good boy. He's dirty and smelly, but he's a good boy."
Hers was one of several success stories during an inaugural outing that saw 13 residents adopt animals from the county shelter in less than half a day's time.
"That's a lot, from just being open three hours. We had a line going first thing this morning, of people wanting to adopt a particular animal," said Shyanne Schull, interim director of the county's animal services. "We're hoping this will be a new chapter in animal control."
Across town, city officials continued to discourage walk-in customers, even though they had accepted three stray dogs and half a dozen stray cats that morning.
City employees said animals would not be turned away, but urged residents to call Bakersfield Police Department animal control officers to pick up sick, injured or vicious animals, until kennel renovations are complete Oct. 15.
Barbed wire atop fences was taken down, and the words "County of Kern" already had been removed, city employees said, but the words "Animal Shelter" remained, pending new signage.
"With the split between the city and the county behind us, the effort is to reduce the population at the shelter," said Steve Teglia, assistant to City Manager Alan Tandy, pronouncing the barbed wire "ugly" and unnecessary. "Right from the get-go, the split will allow us to house additional animals in our jurisdiction."
Each shelter ultimately will be able to house approximately 300 animals -- roughly twice the capacity of the Mount Vernon Avenue shelter now run by the SPCA and the city of Bakersfield.
Both agencies hope to house fewer animals by aggressively promoting low-cost altering and vaccines and free microchip implantation; and in the city's case, to ultimately become a no-kill shelter.
At midday Tuesday, the county shelter housed approximately 300 dogs and 10 cats -- 53 cats and 15 dogs having been sent Saturday before its move to Cat's Cradle Animal Rescue in British Columbia.
At the county site, animals were housed in blue pawprint-painted Building A, and Building B, which will be used for surgery and to quarantine sick animals, was being rebuilt. Schull said the renovation won't be complete until November or December.
The city's schedule is tighter. It plans to sanitize, sandblast and reseal four kennel buildings, and to temporarily retrofit existing offices in two weeks, pending the arrival in about a month of a pre-fabricated office buildingfor surrenders and adoptions.
During the next month, city crews will create a new parking area along the site's southern edge, and a left-turn lane into that lot for motorists southbound on Mount Vernon Avenue.