Numbers looking better for humane society

Published 9:24 pm Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Chilton County Humane Society saw a significant decrease in intake, as well as an increase in adoptions and rescues, from June 2009 to June 2010.

From June 1-30 of this year, the shelter took in 457 animals, down from 611 for the same time period in 2009, Director Joe Murphy reported.

“It still seems like a lot, but we’re headed in the right direction,” said Murphy, who took over as director in mid-May of last year.

Murphy also reported that adoptions are on the rise, although the increase is not as dramatic, and that rescues and transfers exceeded 100 for the month of June.

“We are also seeing the euthanasia rates decline,” he added, estimating the euthanasia rate at about 66 percent from June to May. “Of course, we want to diminish that even further.”

Under Murphy’s direction, the shelter has implemented several new policies within the past year, including mandatory spay or neuter prior to adoption. They have also partnered with local and regional clinics to offer a low-cost spay and neuter program. Murphy thinks the new numbers are at least an indication that these efforts are paying off.

The shelter is also taking advantage of more rescue opportunities and transfers. They have sent several animals to the Greater Birmingham Humane Society and have allowed the Shelby County Humane Society to transport animals to places as far north as New Hampshire, where Murphy says the demand for pets is greater and the euthanasia rate is much lower than in Alabama.

“The more I can decrease the intake, the more I can decrease the euthanasia rate,” he said.

While Murphy is pleased with the reduction in intake, he said the biggest part of the reduction came in the form of dogs. Cats, on the other hand, are — literally — a completely different animal.

“Maybe cats are just more prolific,” he said. “You’ve got a lot of feral cats people can’t touch. Dogs depend a little more on people.”

The overall health of animals at the shelter seems to be improving with stricter vaccination policies, which is hoped to make the option of adopting from the shelter more attractive to potential pet owners. There have been no returns this spring due to health reasons, according to Murphy, and although some dogs have been brought in with parvo, none have contracted the disease there recently.

The facility itself is in need of repairs. Murphy would like to have central heating and air for the shelter, and he is currently seeking grant assistance for potential new programs. Of course, there is always a need for cat and dog food, cat litter and cleaning supplies, he said.

“This facility isn’t getting any bigger anytime soon,” Murphy said. “Our only hope is that people will spay and neuter and adopt from a humane society.”