Animal Shelter Bulging
When personnel at the Moore County Animal Shelter talk about a full house, they're not playing poker.
Cages and runs are filled to capacity during the busy summer season, and for some dogs and cats, the situation could be likened to the Roach Motel, where they check in but don't check out.
"This is the time of year when we're crowded," said Al Carter, director of the county's animal control program.
Carter said the situation is no worse than usual for the late spring and summer season, but it's also no better. This is the time of year when the shelter fills up because it's the season when dogs and cats give birth, and owners don't want their offspring. They deliver them to the shelter.
"Some days 45 or 50 animals are brought in, and we only have room for 100," Carter said.
The shelter, located behind the Moore County Public Works Complex off U.S. 15-501 in Carthage, has space for 60 dogs and 40 cats. When the population exceeds 100, decisions must be made to euthanize excess animals to make room for more.
Carter said every effort is made to return lost animals to their owners and to find adoptive homes for other animals, but unfortunately these animals are outnumbered by those that go unclaimed.
Because the shelter can accommodate no more than 100 animals, shelter personnel often find it necessary to euthanize animals after three days.
Conditions will soon improve, because the birthing season is ending and most people have already completed arrangements for the puppies and kittens born in spring and summer.
"The situation reverses itself September through March," Carter says.
During the 2007 calendar year, the shelter received 4,973 animals. Of that number, 63 percent were euthanized, 30 percent were adopted, and 7 percent were returned to owners.
Carter said the really sad thing about these statistics lies in the fact that the Moore County Shelter is rated third best of the large animal shelters in North Carolina when it comes to adoptions and number of euthanizations. Moore County ranks only behind shelters in Orange and Forsyth counties.
The shelter averages 75 percent euthanizations during this time of year, but the rate will drop to 63 percent in winter.
The situation would be far more acute without the efforts of several active animal welfare nonprofits that help to reunite lost animals with owners and work to find homes for abandoned and abused animals.
In addition, two county-appointed committees have been working for the past three years to improve the situation.
For more than two years, the Citizens' Pet Responsibility Committee has worked to provide reduced cost spay and neuter clinics to encourage pet owners to have their pets sterilized. This committee has worked to educate the public about the need to sterilize pets and to provide better care and has also found several ways to publicize the need and to find adoptive homes.
Now the Animal Control Ordinance Revision Comm-ittee has completed work on an amended version of the ordinance that tightens regulations for ownership of animals. The draft ordinance will go to the Board of Commissioners for adoption in September.
Dogs and cats are always available for adoption at the county animal shelter. A fee is charged to cover the cost of spay/neuter procedures, rabies vaccinations, and microchipping, the latter a means of identifying animals when they become lost. State law requires that animals be held a minimum number of days before they are available for adoption to give owners time to claim their pets, if they want them.
One bright spot in the animal shelter population problem these days is the future of 10 surviving puppies from a litter whose mother was killed by an automobile a few weeks ago. Animal control rescued 11 puppies, but the runt died. However, the remaining 10 black puppies are healthy and suitable for adoption. They are in the foster care of Elizabeth O'Donnell until the next run is made to the North Shore Animal League in Long Island, N.Y., where suitable homes will be quickly found.
The league accepts healthy puppies for adoption because New York has strict animal control laws and few animals are available there. Selection and transport of these puppies is made possible through collaboration of the Pet Responsibility Committee, the Moore County Kennel Club and the county animal control program.
These 10 puppies, plus their deceased sibling, were mentioned in a feature story earlier this month in The Pilot. O'Donnell was the subject of a separate feature earlier this summer.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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