Kyle Kirkland holds Lily the cat, one of his foundation’s rescues. Photo by Donald A. Promnitz
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
A local business executive and casino owner is working to find homes for the stray and abandoned animals of Downtown Fresno — and he’s taking to social media to get the job done.
Club One Casino owner Kyle Kirkland started the Kirkland Foundation about three years ago, responding to a growing problem of homeless dogs and cats in the area that he has noticed over the course of a decade. His own dog is a rescue from downtown. After the terrier mix was found near the Club One dumpster, he was taken in and found a home with Kirkland. Since then, “Jackpot” the dog has become something of a Club One mascot, and an inspiration for the foundation.
However, most strays in Fresno will not have the same luck that Jackpot had. In fact, according Fresno Humane Animal Services, Fresno County has the lowest save rate in California, with approximately 80% of cats and 50% of dogs being euthanized due to overpopulation.
In order to get people involved, the Kirkland Foundation has taken to social media — especially Facebook. Over the last three years, they’ve gone from simply supporting local animal welfare causes (their original function), to utilizing the social media tool to find animals in need, help people with transport, provide funding for veterinary care and getting rescued animals into loving homes.
“Now the cool thing for us and for all animal rescues is the existence of tools like Facebook where… when we see animals — if there’s an animal in distress — we get tagged on Facebook,” Kirkland said.
The site is also useful with connecting potential pet owners from outside of the region and in other states. As Kirkland explained, there’s a high demand for rescues in places like Oregon and Northern California, where effective solutions to animal control have led to a deficit in stray animals to adopt.
According to Kirkland, the homeless animal issue is a problem that — while not necessarily being something solvable overnight — can be visibly fixed with the help of the community in a fairly short amount of time. The Kirkland Foundation, he explained, is simply his way of using his resources to do his part.
“For us, we felt like, ‘hey, we can move the needle,’” Kirkland said. “We can bring down the euthanasia rates just by getting involved, so that’s what we’re up to.”