I was as skeptical as anyone when Kim Mullins was appointed to the position of Director of Kern County Animal Control (KCAC) in November 2010. After all, since I've lived in the area we've had four different people in charge of the department, three in the last four years alone, without making much progress that could be considered beneficial for the homeless pets of Kern County.
As many of you know, I work with a volunteer group that, among other things, works to help Kern County shelters on a direct level; purchasing items the shelter needs that aren't included in the budget, raising funds for low-cost spay/neuter events, providing people to hold off-site adoption events and assisting with KCAC events.
Before Ms. Mullins came along, more than a little time was spent during our monthly meetings expressing frustration with KCAC --- lack of communication on their end about how our organization could make an impact, lack of support for our activities on their behalf and an apparent lack of enthusiasm for anything we (or any other rescue group) might wish to do to help get more pets out of the shelter and into forever homes. The whole thing hardly seemed worth the personal investment and effort we put into trying.
But Ms. Mullins was different. Coming from outside the traditional shelter system, she was open to hearing our ideas, supportive of our efforts and open to regular, real communication. Things began getting better, inch by inch. She was invested, and her investment gave me hope for a better future for the companion animals in KCAC. For the first time since I moved here, I felt we might actually be able to get a handle on some of the issues plaguing the homeless pets in our county.
She came to meetings and spoke plainly about what could change and how soon changes could take place. She was responsive to our requests and made herself available to the media for interviews and for our events, where she could meet and greet the public whom KCAC serves. Rescue groups and the public in general were (finally) beginning to say positive things about the changes happening at the shelter and believed that her progressive style might be the real deal.
And, like that, she was gone. Fired on the last day of her probationary period, the day after her supervisor lauded her efforts to the local newspaper. Though he isn't talking, the article in The Bakersfield Californian certainly leads one to believe that her dismissal is directly related to questions she raised about city animal control workers possibly improperly (and perhaps illegally) killing animals while out in the field.
A follow-up article demonstrates the affinity many in the rescue world feel for Ms. Mullins and the changes she was busy implementing on behalf of Kern County's companion animals. To say that people involved in trying to make positive change at the shelter are disappointed is a gross understatement. But we are not going to sit back an just let this happen without a fight, especially from a county that has already been sued once (and lost), in 2004 for violations of the Hayden Act.
To that end, a group called Justice 4 Paws has started a petition to have Ms. Mullins reinstated as shelter director of KCAC. You can find and sign the petition here. Please feel free to share it with anyone you believe might be interested in the outcome of this situation.
Also, please feel free to send emails to the Kern County Board of Supervisors:
District 1 - Jon McQuiston: email@example.com
District 2 - Zack Scrivner: firstname.lastname@example.org
District 3 - Mike Maggard: email@example.com
District 4 - Ray Watson: firstname.lastname@example.org
District 5 - Karen Goh: email@example.com
You may also mail letters to: 1115 Truxtun Avenue, Fifth Floor, Bakersfield, CA 93301
Thanks for your time. I'll keep you posted.
*Disclaimer - Though I sit as a board member of a nonprofit group who works with Kern County Animal Control the views expressed here are mine alone.