BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – With so many dogs being dumped, lost, abandoned, and neglected around Kern it’s no wonder euthanasia rates are soaring at Kern County’s overwhelmed shelters.

Across Kern County, the surge in abandoned dogs has reached epidemic proportions, animal activists say. Stressed-out shelter operators and their dedicated staff, believe it could get even worse.

“What used to be a beautiful agricultural community is now known as the dog dumping ground of California, we’re worse than Texas,” said Melissa Hutton of Bakersfield Strays, a facilitating rescue group.

“It’s horrible.”

Hutton says the growing abandonment of dogs around Kern County has created an epidemic and many are turning a blind eye to.

“Out of sight is out of mind for a lot of people they don’t want to think that other people do that and its evil,” Hutton said.

“Let’s face it, you’re leaving these dogs out in the middle of nowhere […] and when you look into the eyes of a dog that has been abandoned in 110 degree heat, it’s disgusting.”

“When you pick them up and you put them in your car they literally melt, into a pile to just be loved and protected these dogs are like children,” Hutton added.

If this epidemic continues to worsen, shelters across the county that are euthanizing 20 to 100 dogs a day could be forced to euthanize even more for space. But according to Melissa Brunson, the Executive Director of Dog Rescue Marley’s Mutts, if city and county officials enacted more enforcement that could change.

“Licensing, adding animal control officers that can make sure people are paying the fines, stiffer fines, and when you enforce stiffer fines like they do in other countries less and less of this happens,” said Brunson.

If that doesn’t happen, Hutton hopes residents across the county will step up.

“There is nothing worse than traveling behind a car out in the country and seeing a puppy fly out the window and I’ve seen it with my own eyes.”

“They need us, and we’ve let them down, our whole community has let them down. We have a lot of good people in this city, but we have a lot of people that are getting away with murder with the dogs” said Hutton.

To adopt a dog from the county, go here and to adopt a dog in Bakersfield go here.