The numbers are staggering and the stories are heart-wrenching.
And Chelley Kitzmillers' presentation to the Tehachapi City Council during its Feb. 4 meeting on behalf of the Have A Heart Humane Society and the Tehachapi Humane Society for the spay and neutering of animals was powerful.
She began by referring to an article that recently appeared in The Bakersfield Californian and a photo of a man at Kern County animal shelter holding a pit bull puppy that is kissing him just before it was euthanized.
The article also indicates that 32,565 animals were processed this past year and 62 percent were put down because they were too aggressive, too young, got sick or were otherwise not adoptable.
"They were given lethal injections, dumped in 55-gallon drums and hauled away," Kitzmiller said.
Pleading with council members she asked the city to put up $5,000 to help offset the costs of spaying and neutering Tehachapi's four-legged friends.
"It's a lot less than the Christmas tree," she said. "That money would mean that 500 dogs and cats could be altered, meaning they would not be producing litters, starving to death, freezing to death, being killed on our highways or abused."
According Kitzmiller, Kern County Animal Control has agreed to bring its mobile veterinarian clinic to Tehachapi if Kitzmiller and her group can raise the funding.
Currently Have a Heart Humane has been using grant money that it receives from local banks to provide free spay and neutering for low-income families, and has altered almost 250 animals, many they have transported in personal cars outside of Tehachapi to low cost clinics.
The organization also receives assistance from the Tehachapi Humane Society, another non-profit, which has long been providing vouchers to low-income families that cannot afford to alter their pets.
Nevertheless, if the group can raise the funding with the help from the city, Kern County Animal Control will take care of the details, and has agreed to a $10 fee to spay or neuter, microchip and vaccinate for rabies each pet brought to them.
"It will make many of these pet owners responsible where they might not want to be," Kitzmiller said. "We are the people of Tehachapi and we support spay and neutering and we want something done."
The council took no action, but did agree to direct staff to look into the idea.
However, Mayor Phil Smith said he did not feel that the city should bear the brunt for 30,000 people in the area.
"But at the same time we can't say 'no' to Tehachapi residents," he added.
He also suggested the ideas of engaging some of the area's community services districts to help with the funding.
"I would be happy as a city to chip in if everyone else will chip in," Smith said. "We'll do our part. Lets take a look and see what we can do."
City Manager Greg Garrett also spoke up and said that he would speak with Kern County Animal Control to see if the city could amend its contract to provide these types of services.
"It sounds like a great idea," he said. "We would know exactly when they are coming, where their going to be and we would have a legal document to hold them to the fire."