It’s funny how you think a particular thing is never going to happen and then — boom — there it is.
I was cruising through Facebook the other day and saw on the Kern County Animal Services feed a notice for a “mega adoption event” at the Kern County Fairgrounds on April 23.
Logos from a number of different entities were included on the notice.
When I say different entities, I mean some of these groups haven’t always been on the most friendly terms with each other.
It’s no secret that animal welfare groups can be, let's say, prickly with one another.
I get it.
You have to have a lot of passion to get into animal rescue. Some might say more passion than sense.
Things can get heated, feelings hurt and grudges held.
All of which is why I was so heartened to see this notice.
Kern County residents need to see all the wonderful animal welfare groups that work so hard every day standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a common goal — to save lives.
“It’s been really cool,” said Nick Cullen, director of Kern Animal Services. “We’ve had a couple meetings with people who normally wouldn’t be in the same room together.”
He said the idea of an “all-hands” event came up several years ago under a former Animal Services director who got Kern County invited to a huge event in Southern California held by No-Kill Los Angeles, an initiative started by Best Friends Animal Society.
“It was really eye-opening,” Cullen said of that event in 2013.
He was Kern’s shelter supervisor back then and was impressed by how many groups were on hand, cooperating, sharing resources, information, etc.
The intent for Kern’s first-ever such event is to get as many municipal and smaller shelters as possible to attend to help introduce them to the public as well as connect them to services they may not know are available right here in Kern.
“Honestly, I don’t care if we adopt out that many animals that day,” he said. “We want to raise awareness about these other shelters that need help and it’s a chance for other shelters to connect with groups and nonprofits that can help them.”
There are about 30 vendors on board right now and Cullen said there’s space for up to 60 more.
There’s no charge to set up a booth, but the county does have insurance requirements. (See side box.)
And, of course, the public is invited to come and adopt a best friend, or two.
“We hope the community will come out to support this great event and meet the people behind the good work that’s done here every day,” said Julie Johnson, director of the Bakersfield SPCA and Bakersfield Animal Care Center.
In fact, she said, it’s such a great concept, there are plans for a second mega adoption event this October at the Rabobank Arena.
Given this community’s huge animal overpopulation problem, I say we can’t have enough adoption/networking events.
Johnson agreed Bakersfield and Kern have made great strides in the last four years but we need to keep up the momentum.
As a reminder of how far we’ve come, here are some numbers to wrap your mind around.
The city and county combined had to euthanize 20,533 animals in the 2013-14 fiscal year.
That dropped by half in the 2015-16 fiscal year to 10,600 animals.
Still too many, but you can see we are on the right track.
The key to that success was reducing animal intake by increasing access to spay/neuter surgeries.
Critters Without Litters, the only nonprofit, low-cost spay/neuter clinic in Kern County had a huge hand in cutting down on unwanted litters.
Combine that with extremely active rescues and transfers as well as aggressive adoptions and things are looking up in Kern animal welfare.
All good things that should be celebrated, showcased and enhanced.
“If we can change the public’s perception of shelters and shelter animals, that will be a success,” Cullen said.
My only quibble is that there won’t be a low-cost vaccination/licensing clinic at the April event.