San Bernardino County recently released its state-mandated report for rabies activity for 2014. The report, which is broken down by shelter, also provides euthanasia rates for each shelter. The cities of Victorville and Hesperia top the list with the highest percentage of animals being killed rather than adopted or returned to owner.
The San Bernardino County Annual Report of Rabies Activity Information 2014 shows Victorville’s euthanasia rate for 2014 was a whopping 72.97 percent. Of the 2,945 animals picked up or surrendered in the city of Victorville, 2,149 were killed.
Hesperia ranks second at 58.58 percent. Hesperia Animal Control took in 5,712 animals and killed 3346 of them.
At the bottom of the list was Rancho Cucamonga at 14.23 percent. They took in 4,314 animals and euthanized 614.
The city of Victorville contracts with the Victor Valley Animal Protective League (VVAPL) for its shelter services. Those who are not familiar with the five-decade history of VVAPL might be surprised at the exceptionally high rate of euthanasia. But for many high desert animal activists who have been around for a while, it is the history of atrocities at their Zuni shelter that turned animal lovers into activists.
The city of Hesperia operates its own animal shelter. It has been under fire for the past two months after a shelter worker was videotaped dragging a dog down a hallway. The video went viral and attracted attention worldwide. Several major media chains covered the story. The incident remains under investigation.
Despite the second highest euthanasia rate in San Bernardino County, shelter manager Cheryl Lewis does not believe the shelter needs help networking the city’s animals to get more adopted and kill less. In an email to Stephanie Lonsdale, a local activist who asked to provide a photographer to take photos of available animals for networking purposes on social media, Animal Control Supervisor Cheryl Lewis wrote:
“Thank you for taking an interest in wanting to network our animals. However, it isn’t necessary. The Shelter staff contacts Rescue Groups on a daily basis. We also post all animals weekly on the City’s website: www.cityofhesperia.us under the Animal Control Department.
“We also post our adoptable animals on “Adopt A Pet” website, which links to other Pet Adoption sites. In addition, we post pictures of adoptable animals in the Daily Press, Hesperia Star (every Tuesday), and host “Pet of the Week” on Y102 every Tuesday.
“In the past, we had numerous problems when people (with good intentions) begin to post our animals on Facebook and other websites. Therefore, we prefer to only use Shelter staff to post our animals, including the Hesperia Animal Shelter Facebook page,” Lewis concluded in her email.
The city recently began to allow its selected volunteer to photograph the animals. However, only a few animals ever appear on the city’s website and there are long periods of time where the website is not updated. Although the photos are nice, they are so small they are not conducive to networking on a wide scale.
Animal activists have taken their concerns to the Hesperia City Council. At this point two city councilmen, Bill Holland and Paul Russ, are animal friendly and hopeful they effect change. Whether or not they will be able to get a third vote is questionable. At least one councilman, Mike Leonard, is supportive of staff and appears to prefer the status quo.
Animal activists are expected to attend the Tuesday, May 5, 2015, Hesperia City Council meeting to voice concerns. The meeting will be held at City Hall, 9700 Seventh Ave., Hesperia, beginning at 6:30 p.m.