Eyewitness News investigates a stunning number of stray dogs are dying on Fresno County streets. The people trying to save them say our pet population is overwhelming and continues to grow. In a month long investigation we spent time with the people who rescue and capture stray dogs while combing through the state health department numbers that show Fresno County has a real problem.
Just one female dog on the streets can have a major impact on the pet population. If she isn’t fixed she can have up to three litters of puppies a year. Between her and her puppies they could create 67,000 new puppies over the span of six years. That’s why experts say this is something we need to talk about. 

We normally see stray dogs at Fresno’s animal shelters, but before they arrive they’re often found hopeless just trying to survive in the heat without food or water.  

“We literally found these dogs in the street,” said Mell Garcia holding one of three puppies. “They were in the street so they could’ve caused an accident and like I said they were dripping with fleas and ticks.”

These are the lucky ones. Garcia opens her own home and back yard to stray dogs she’s personally rescued. It’s overwhelming and costly, but she loves these animals too much to see them suffer.

“I wish I didn’t have to do this. I’m really serious. I really wish there was no need to rescue dogs. I wish people would spay or neuter so we would never have to do that because even though we are rescuing them we’re not rescuing enough and we’ll never rescue their way out of this,” said Garcia.  

Thousands of dogs won’t be rescued and die on the streets of Fresno County. We worked to gather two years worth of state numbers. In both 2015 and 2016 more than 2,200 dead dogs were collected by animal control in Fresno County. It’s Jose Hernandez’s job to go pick them up. 

“One of the things you know is that it could have been prevented,” said Hernandez.

Taking me along on his route through Calwa, Hernandez says the health of stray dogs out there trying to survive in the Valley heat is a major concern, along with being a potential danger and nusence for people living here. Hernandez says often people won’t call about it.

“Sometimes you go home irritated and upset because you just found a dog that almost died due to no food or water,” said Hernandez.

The numbers from a public records request we filed shows just how many dogs are out there. Animal control officers across Fresno County caught more than 20,500 stray dogs during a two year span from 2015 to the end of 2016. 

“It’s not an easy fix, but we need to start heading that way,” said Hernandez. 

Animal experts say if dogs aren’t spayed or neutered to prevent the birth of more stray dogs the problem is only going to get worse.

“It does affect the entire community. That dog is more than likely unaltered running around and you’re taking the chances it’s creating another litter and another litter,” said Garcia. 

Some of the stray dogs will get a second chance when they are adopted or shipped off to no-kill rescues, but the numbers we gathered show for many dogs this will be the end. In 2015 and 2016 combined more than 17,000 dogs had to be put down during those two years. 
This is why Mell Garcia continues to welcome stray dogs into her home to give them hope and to make us stop and think the next time we see a dog running in the street.

There’s just not enough help for them and they will be euthanized and people don’t want to believe that. It happens. It happens every single day in our community,” said Garcia.

For resources to adopt dogs and to have your pets fixed we’ve posted some links below.

Adoption and Spay and Neuter Links: