by Joyce Brandon
Joyce is a part of Animal Compassion Team, an animal rescue in Squaw Valley.
A recent discussion amongst friends focused on a story of faith in the Bible. The story featured a woman with a physical affliction, who, after failing to find relief through conventional means, grabbed the hem of Jesus’ robe and was healed. We were batting about thoughts and insights regarding the healing of this woman. I began to wonder: was this an extraordinary woman of faith or was this an ordinary woman who had an extraordinary moment of faith? Did she reject conventional wisdom which had failed her, for the unconventional? By now I’m sure you are asking yourself, “What does this have to do with animal rescue?” I’m getting there.
If you are reading this article it is likely because you are interested in animal welfare issues. You may be aware that the city and county of Fresno are at a crossroads with animal control. A task force has been assembled to make recommendations regarding a new animal control system for the Central Valley. For 50 years the Central California S.P.C.A. has provided animal control services for the Fresno area. Good or bad, they have provided a service and it’s the only thing most of us have ever known. The service is paid for by the city and county and has largely gone unchecked. Through recent news reports and the latest grand jury report, it now appears that this has been a broken system for some time.
The CCSPCA’s announcement that they were ending their contract with the city and county effective October 1 was met with mixed emotions. Some jubilant that the time has finally come for the lives of our homeless pets to improve, some defensive of the old organization, and of course, concern on the part of our public officials that they now need to find someone else to take on the job.
A task force has formed to find a solution and make recommendations to the City Council and the County Board of Supervisors. I’ve attended two of these meetings and sense a real concern and hesitation to embrace a new way of thinking. Many comments have been made regarding discussions with the CCSPCA still taking place. The clock is ticking, time is running short, and yet there has been no RFP (Request for Proposal) come forth so that a new organization can present options. The latest is that they are asking the CCSPCA to extend until December to the give the task force more time: conventional wisdom?
Another concern of mine is that there is an organization standing in the wings wanting to take over Fresno animal control: an organization not much different than the CCSPCA: conventional wisdom?
My desire is that the members of this task force will have an extraordinary moment of faith. I want them to say that we can do better than kill 70-80% of our homeless pets. I want them to have the vision and the clarity of purpose to embrace a new philosophy regarding our pet population. I want them to see what I see: the desperation in the eyes of that animal as it disappears behind the doors of the kill room. I want them to want the killing to stop. I want them to place a high value on the lives that are being lost: unconventional wisdom?
I fear that unless there is a heart-felt passion and desire to change, Fresno will simply continue with a system of destroying animals. This is a system that has failed to solve anything. There is an answer, a new way of approaching animal control. I only hope that the members of the task force are able to summon the same courage and faith necessary to make real change as the woman who reached for the hem of a garment. Her courage and willingness to embrace the unconventional brought her healing, peace, and acceptance. I believe Fresno can expect the same results.
Please contact your public officials and let them know that enough is enough. The time is now for Fresno to reach out and embrace the unconventional. The lives of so many depend upon it.