HANFORD — It’s not uncommon to look outside in Kings County to see a stray dog or cat in the front yard.
The Central Valley has a stray problem, and it’s important that locals know what to do when they find a lost animal, said Kings County Animal Services (KCAS) Director Samantha Yang.
If an animal is found, the first step is to bring it in to KCAS on 10909 Bonneyview Lane in Hanford. But a lot of people are apprehensive to alerting animal control, Yang said.
“People will find a dog but they don’t want to bring it here because they think we’re the big, bad, mean shelter,” Yang said. “They think that we just put everything down, which is not actually true. We try really hard to get dogs and cats out to rescues and adopted.”
KCAS has taken in 4,441 animals so far in 2019 and its live release rate is 85 percent. The shelter will only euthanize animals if they are dog-aggressive, too sick or too injured.
The organization tries to reunite pets with their owners, but will give them to rescues, foster homes or interested adopters if they aren’t claimed.
KCAS also manages the intake of cats, which means they will only accept ones that are too young to fend for themselves or are sick or injured. This is due to the high volume of stray and feral cats in the Central Valley, Yang said.
If a lost or stray animal is found and you are unable to take it the KCAS office, animal control officers will come pick them up. Lemoore residents can call the Lemoore Police Department at (559) 924-9574 and Hanford residents can call the Hanford Police Department at (559) 585-2535.
For residents who live outside both cities, the Kings County Sheriff Non-Emergency Dispatch will send out an animal control officer. They can be reached at (559) 584-9276.
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Animal control officers are only available during business hours unless it’s an emergency, such as a dog being hit by a car. Yang recommends to keep the lost animal at your house until the KCAS office opens in the morning, if possible.
“We want to at least scan (the animal) for a microchip, and then it can sit (in the kennels) and wait for its owner,” Yang said. “A lot of the times people just walk through our doors, don’t say anything to us, and if they don’t see their dog in the kennels they will just leave.”
With the holidays approaching in a couple months, it’s especially important to microchip pets and make sure they have a collar with an ID tag and contact number, Yang said. The holidays become some of the busiest times for KCAS, as people’s pets escape while they are on vacation.
Besides using a boarding facility, pet owners can microchip their pets at a local veterinarian or even the KCAS office, which offers microchips for $10 to all pets who are spayed or neutered.
According to city code, it’s against the law to own a pet over the age of four months that isn’t spayed or neutered. KCAS offers access to low-cost neuter and spay procedures, which are $25 for cats and $100 for dogs.
In order to keep the number of stray animals off the street, Yang is also trying to form a volunteer group that will trap, neuter and release (TNR) cats around Kings County.
“I think the excess of stray animals is due to the mentality of the Central Valley,” Yang said. “We are a farm community, a lot of people have ranch dogs and a lot of people don’t know they can just go fix their dogs or cats.”
For more information on services or to report a stray animal, Kings County residents can call KCAS at (559) 852-2525. The organization is also hosting a special - all shepherd, husky and pit bull dog breeds that are unclaimed at KCAS can be adopted for $25.