With more than 50 small dogs, a Delhi man’s home may look more like a kennel. And therein lies the problem with Merced County Animal Control – it isn’t one.
For the past eight years, Richard Bojorquez and Manuel Miranda have brought hundreds of dogs into their home, housing more than 50 dogs at a single time.
Although Bojorquez and Miranda have provided local pet adoption agencies with scores of dogs over the years, the two have never been certified as an official kennel or shelter with Merced County.
“We are not for profit in any way, and all we do is contact various agencies to give dogs to for adoption,” said Bojorquez. “We’ve been doing this for eight years now, and it has never been a problem until now. We’ve been helping the county and now they are shutting us down.”
According to Bojorquez, animal service officers have visited his home several times over the years, never once citing him for any wrongdoing.
“They would tell us that we were doing a good job and to keep up the good work,” said Bojorquez. “They were nice enough to turn their head on the matter because they recognized that we were doing a good thing here.”
But in early September, all of that would change.
Following an incident where one of Bojorquez’s dogs was attacked by a neighboring mastiff, the Merced County Animal Control department began looking into the legality of keeping more than 50 dogs at a home without a kennel license.
“They decided to tell us that we have too many dogs and that we would need to pay $1,000 for a kennel license in order to keep the animals here,” said Bojorquez. “They also wanted us to pay to have all the dogs reregistered and revaccinated all at once, which would be another couple thousand dollars. But we were given two months. We couldn’t come up with that kind of money in that time frame.”
Bojorquez noted that it had not been an issue previously due to the quality of care he and Miranda provided for the dogs, and the amount of space they have available for their operation.
“We’re on 11 acres and have large pins where each dog has anywhere from 30 to 70 feet of space,” said Bojorquez. “They’re never out in the road and we’re out in the country. We do a good job at taking care of them, keeping them clean and healthy. All of our dogs are under 20 pounds too, since they’re mostly Chihuahua mixes. But there is nothing more that we can do at this point.”
Since learning that the county would shut down their operation at their home, Bojorquez and Miranda have been rushing furiously to find locations for the dogs to avoid sending them to a shelter where they may be put down. They cannot give the dogs to individual people, only to certified adoption agencies.
“We’re trying hard to get them placed instead of destroyed,” said Bojorquez. “We’ve contacted a few agencies that are nearby and some that are out of state, so hopefully most of the dogs will be taken and found homes for. We’ve spent over $12,000 of our own money this year alone on vets and supplies, so that just goes to show that we really care about these dogs and it’s just so sad that we’ve been doing such a great deal for them and the county is not willing work with us.”
In the face of a possible $100,000 penalty fee, however, Bojorquez says that they have no other choice but to surrender the animals by the end of the month.
“The penalty fees are just too scary,” said Bojorquez. “This is just over our heads. We want to make sure that all of the animals are sent to adoption agencies, but we know that some will be put down. We just don’t want to cause any problems or have this go too far, so we’ll do what we have to. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep at least 10 dogs.”