An offer by an animal rescue group located in New York could help stem the number of animals killed in the Surry County Animal Shelter, and while shelter officials are still mulling the proposal, local animal advocates say the proposal is a win-win for everyone.
According to Jane Taylor, organizer of local spay/neuter advocates Mayberry4Paws, a lack of adoptable animals in more urban areas spurs the need for local animals.
North Shore Animal League Rescue, located in Long Island, N.Y., is the largest no-kill rescue group on the East Coast.
“But in addition to running an animal rescue, they get a lot of their animals from kill shelters located in the South,” she said. “In the northeast, state legislation requires pet owners to spay or neuter their pets, so their shelters don’t fill up with puppies. In order to have enough puppies to meet their demand for adoption, they come south and get puppies and take them back up there.”
Recently, North Shore contacted Taylor after being alerted to the high local kill rates by officials with the Millan Foundation, founded by famed “Dog Whisperer” Caeser Millan.
Local animal advocates have been in contact with the foundation since the high kill rates were publicized last year in The Mount Airy News.
“They’ve offered to work with animal welfare groups in Surry County and pull from our shelter,” she said. “If this actually happens, they will come and get the animals and provide the transportation up north.”
And the service will not only save the lives of local animals in the shelter, it will come at no cost to the county.
Taylor said local animal advocates would have to pay for rabies shots and a certification that the animals are fit for adoption by a veterinarian.
“It would be a very minimal cost to local animal groups, and none to the shelter,” she said. “The costs would run an average of less than $35 per animal.”
County Commissioner Larry Phillips said that while he supports the effort, the final decision will have to be made by shelter Director Gary Brown and Health and Nutrition Center Director Samantha Ange.
“We on the county board are certainly willing to look at the proposal,” he said, “but it’s a policy decision that has to be made at the department level.
“I certainly support what (Taylor) is trying to do, but to get specifically into saying this is a go has to be a policy decision.”
But Phillips said the shelter already is adopting more animals this year than last. He noted that in January 2011, the shelter adopted out 11 animals. This past January, that number had climbed to 22.
“There is a tremendous work that has already been done by the shelter workers,” he said, lauding their efforts in the face of some public frustration at the kill rates. “Those officers have laws they have to follow, but then again they have certain expectations from the community.
“They’re making significant progress in the adoption rates,” Phillips added. “It may not be as fast as some would like, but they’re certainly moving in a positive direction and the credit goes to the shelter director and the employees there.”
Taylor agreed that there has been improvement in the local euthanasia rates, but said she can’t see a negative in the proposal.
“It certainly would lower the number of animals killed at the local shelter,” she said. “I think the shelter has done a great job at improving adoptions, but this could certainly help them move a lot of dogs from the shelter at no cost to the county.”
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.