SPCA Board Members Fire Back: "It's Not Taxpayer Money!"

Inside the SPCA parking lot Tuesday, board members arrived for their monthly meeting.

John Brechmann is board president and says the $3 million they get from the city and county isn't taxpayer money.

"That's a contract. Go out there on Willow Avenue and you talk to the contractors building the road. Are they going to let them into their meetings?" John Brechmann said.{}

"But the money comes from taxpayers, right?" KMPH News Reporter Ashley Ritchie asked.

"Who cares? It's a contract," Brechmann replied.

"Do you at your local TV station allow people into your board meetings?," Dick Powell, former board president and volunteer, asked.

"We're not funded by taxpayer dollars," reporter Ashley Ritchie replied.

"We're not either. We're a private contractor that submits a bid every year and we are awarded that bid," Powell said.

Board members say the decision to force contracts onto rescues is strictly business.

"We do not want to lose our status. 501(c)(3). We are a non-profit. If we lose that, we're dead. These people have to do the same thing," Brechmann said.

But most of the rescues that didn't sign the SPCA's contract are 501(c)(3)s. And the refusal to let them pull animals from the shelter is getting noticed more and more by local politicians.

"Certainly, having the rescue community be a part of rescuing animals and keeping them from being euthanized at the SPCA, I think that's a win for everybody," said Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea. "If I were them, I'd be very interested in talking to the supervisors and to the city council. When we're the major contributors of the funds that go into that organization, yeah they should be talking to us."

"There's no elected officials on this board," reporter Ashley Ritchie said.

"There never will be," Brechmann said.

"You're saying it will never happen?" Ashley Ritchie asked.

"No," Brechmann said.

Brechmann admits, without all the rescues on board, more animals will likely be killed.

"That's a possibility for a short time," Brechmann said.

"How is that in the best interest of the animals?" Ashley Ritchie asked.

"(The) public has to take care of their animals," Brechmann said. "We can't do that for them."

But he insists the board cares about each and every dog and cat that comes through here.

"I've been on and off this board for 50 years. Do you think I hate animals?" Brechmann said.

Supervisor Henry Perea also tells KMPH News he wants to get both sides together to talk and come up with some kind of common ground.

The SPCA's contract with the city is up for renewal this June.