It’s been two months now, and the disturbing news an ardent animal rescuer from Chowchilla, California, posted on Facebook in mid-August has not changed. She works closely with the animal control in that town which is in the county of Madera. During a phone interview, she said that for the last five years, the Friends of Madera Shelter (FMAS), a nonprofit group which provides low-cost or free spay and neuter for the dogs of Madera County, had provided food and vaccinations for the animals at the holding facility in Chowchilla (Chowchilla does not have its own shelter).
Last summer, the Madera County Animal Shelter and its director had been getting some heat over the killing of pit bulls (without allowing adoptions of any pit bulls over the age of six months). After a petition was signed by thousands of people, including many from Madera County, that policy changed. But the rash of publicity had caused many to speak out about what they perceive are injustices perpetrated by the Madera County Animal Shelter.
According to the rescuer, the Animal Control Officer (ACO) at Chowchilla received a phone call in mid-August from Kirsten Gross, the director of the Madera County Animal Shelter and one of the founders of the nonprofit Friends of Madera Animal Shelter (FMAS). She told the ACO that effective immediately, FMAS would no longer be providing food or vaccinations for the animals at the Chowchilla holding facility as they have been for the past five years. Ms. Gross told the ACO that the reason they (FMAS) decided not to provide for the animals as they have in the past is that people in Chowchilla have been speaking up against the Madera County Animal Shelter and voicing their concerns about practices there.
One thing has been made clear — the animals at the Chowchilla holding facility will be fed and will be receiving the shots that help them not get sick at the shelter. However, this refusal to provide for the animals at Chowchilla in Madera County has caught all the people involved unprepared. Money that would have been used for food and vaccinations has been spent on medical bills for sick animals who needed medical care. The people and the officials of Chowchilla do incredible things for their animals. Less than 3% of dogs at the small facility were killed. Out of 500 animals, only 13 were sent to Madera County Animal Shelter to be killed there. And that incredible statistic is because of those working tirelessly to save as many animals as possible.
Most animals go out to rescues. The ones that are adopted need to be adopted through Madera County Animal Shelter, and MCAS keeps the adoption fee (part of which goes toward neutering or spaying the animal). A nonprofit organization, FMAS, that is not directly involved with running the county shelter is cutting off support of the Chowchilla facility after five years because of citizens’ concerns about the Madera County shelter. Here is the statement by the volunteer posted on Facebook:
“I have been notified FMAS will no longer be helping the Chowchilla shelter. This means no more food or shots. This is a direct result from everyone including me speaking up about all the shady things that have been going on there. The killing of dogs tagged for rescues, not adopting out pits or pit mixes over the age of 6 months, not holding animals for entire stray holds and killing, not posting kennel cards, and more. FMAS does not run the shelter, Kirsten Gross does.
“So I ask you all, does this seem like more direct retaliation for speaking up and trying to get this shelter and all involved to do right by all the animals? I am utterly shocked that a nonprofit specifically set up to help animals in Madera County would turn their backs on ours. So now I am asking all my rescue friends if you can rally for my shelter. Until we can get hooked up with some stores for donations, if each rescue can PLEASE donate a few bags of food so our dogs can eat. I would also ask every rescue person to think long and hard about pulling from there (MDAS) until there is real change, not damage control. Dogs are needing help everywhere.
“Please go save animals from the shelters that actually welcome you and do not hide things. I know many rescues are tired of the power trip and not being treated well, so again, please, please, please, walk away from Madera shelter, if you all don’t, it will never change. The BOS listened when everyone rallied for the pitties and they told Kirsten to start adopting them at any age. Please do not let this die and go back to the no accountability on their part; more will pay the ultimate price in the long run if there is no change. Please feel free to share with anyone you think may be able to donate until we get lined up with a few stores.”
Note that the shelter cannot take cash or gift card. They welcome food, dog bowls, kitty litter. Chowchilla shelter does a fabulous job of being a true “shelter,” a place where animals receive attention, medical care (when needed), and a chance to get a home. Please help.