07/26/07 — Shelter changes process for strays

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Shelter changes process for strays

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on July 26, 2007 1:45 PM

Every month the Wayne County Animal Shelter is forced to put down between 300 and 600 animals.

It is, county animal control director Justin Scally said, an unfortunate and unpleasant, but necessary, part of the job.

Since June, however, the method of euthanizing those animals has changed from carbon monoxide gas to a sodium pentobarbital lethal injection.

"We made the switch to provide a more humane method of euthanasia," Scally said. "The Humane Society of the United States' position is that euthanasia by injection is the most humane method.

"The animal goes into a sleep state. They fall into a comatose state, and they don't feel anything."

The county began the process of converting to lethal injection shortly after Scally was hired in February. He explained that it took several months to receive the necessary state licenses and certifications to store and give the drugs.

"That was a big step for us," he said.

He added that the change also has been good for the morale of those shelter employees giving the injections.

"It's an unpleasant task, but this way shows the most compassion you can," Scally said.

The problem, he explained, is that simply too many animals -- often 150 or more -- come into the shelter each week.

Strays must be held for at least five days, but often, he continued, they stay much longer.

"We don't have a specific time frame," he said. "It really depends on our space, their health and their behavior. If we had the space we'd hold them forever."

Fortunately, he continued, the shelter's adoption program has picked up in popularity, especially since beginning the Pet of the Week feature earlier this year.

So far, adoptions are up 4 percent since this time last year and 2 percent since the first quarter of this year.

"Our adoptions have been increasing," he said. "I think the staff is doing a good job of getting the word out and going out with the animals and saying, 'Hey, here are the animals we have. Give them a chance.'"

Adoptions at the animal shelter are $35 for males, $50 for females. But if people then take them and get them spayed or neutered, a portion of that payment is returned.

The best way to adopt one, Scally added, is to actually go to their 900 Brick Street location and pick one out.

"The biggest thing I'd tell people is to come on down," he said. "We've got so many animals that come in every day and they deserve that second chance."

For more information on adoptions, call 731-1439.