It is a deadly epidemic in our area that kills hundreds of dogs every year. A report from Kern County's new Animal Control Director highlights the challenges addressing Parvovirus.
Kern County Animal Control takes in 32,000 animals every year and more than half are euthanized.
"It's tragic and this has been a continuing problem with Kern County. It has been for years," said Judi Daunell, Friends of the Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation.
The county's new Animal Control Director, Jen Woodard, was out sick Thursday and was unavailable for an interview. Her 15-page draft report takes aim at the Parvovirus epidemic and the pet overpopulation problem.
"We have lots of counties and cities in the U.S. that have overpopulation. We are certainly not the only ones," said Shyanne Schull, Animal Control's Deputy Director.
Woodard says cultural beliefs are partly to blame for Parvovirus, which is one of the deadliest diseases at the shelter.
Her report states, "There are many communities in Kern County that are 98 percent Mexican and Spanish speaking."
"The culture in Mexico regarding pet care is very different than what is expected in the United States," Woodard goes on to say in the report.
Woodard's statement drew mixed reactions from the local Latino community.
"I have one. It's like my baby. But, a lot of people don't care about their animals. It depends on the people, no matter where they come from," said Argelio Magdelono, a local dog owner.
"They don't have too much information about where they can take it to do operation. You see dogs and cats everywhere. I think they need more information," said Bicky Gurrola, who was born in Mexico.
Animal activists say it is also a money issue for low-income residents. "Whenever we have spay-neuter clinics in heavily Hispanic areas or poor neighborhoods, they are packed," explained Daunell.
Woodard says a lack of low-cost spay and neuter programs only contributes to the pet overpopulation problem. That is why newly elected 5th District Supervisor Leticia Perez has committed a $25,000 Special Project Fund to help fill the void.
"I am taking the entire fund I have to fund a free spay and neuter program starting in Lamont and hopefully expanding to the 5th district," said Leticia Perez.
The report also details 14 solutions to the ongoing pet issues. You can read the report here: