FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) – For years California animal shelters have been trying to lower their kill rates. Historically, Fresno County has had one of the highest rates in the state, according to the data from the Central California SPCA.
About 5 years ago, Fresno resident Mell Garcia decided she had to do something about the stray dog overpopulation problem, especially in her Southeast Fresno neighborhood.
“In no way did we plan to have an animal shelter here,” said Garcia as she walked into her backyard, revealing an elaborate set up of kennels, pools, toys, and other necessities to care for a dog.
Garcia is a former U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer and founder of “Mell’s Mutts.”
“The heart of the problem here in this community in Fresno is the need to spay and neuter dogs. I don’t think we have ever given it enough importance,” said Garcia.
She started the nonprofit after saving two stray Pitbulls named ‘Grease’ and ‘Lightning’ from being euthanized at an overwhelmed shelter.
“I was just so desperate for somebody to help us, and it really made me see a need, there are so many dogs in need. And I think of that night and I was just so desperate to save their lives and I’m very fortunate I have the land and the property to do it,” said Garcia.
Mell’s Mutts is a temporary shelter for dogs who are lost or facing euthanasia. Working closely with animal control, she reports them as missing and tries herself to find their owner using social media platforms. If no one claims them, she takes them to the vet where most get, vaccinated, and spayed or neutered. She then tries to find them a foster family, giving them a second chance in life.
Garcia says the stay dog problem affects everyone in the community, regardless of whether they are dog lovers.
“You have dogs running rampant especially in Southeast Fresno, you go out to any neighborhood and there’s dogs running loose. They can cause an accident, you can get bit by them, they can bite your pet,” said Garcia.
In recent months, she’s taken on big medical cases, raising money for the animals’ procedures and care through donations.
“It gets expensive. We run strictly on donations, and we are really fortunate we have a lot of supporters who help us and we are very grateful because we can only do this if we have donations,” said Garcia.
But like most rescues, Garcia is overwhelmed with the seemingly endless cycle.
“We are drowning. I’m drowning and I’m just one of the many that are helping. When we help dogs, it’s a drop in the bucket,” said Garcia.
You can donate or learn more about Mell’s Mutts by visiting their website.