Humane Society reports record year for 2015

Published 2:53 pm Friday, January 15, 2016

The Chilton County Humane Society reports a record year for 2015 with more animals adopted and rescued.

According to a press release from the Chilton County Humane Society, the euthanasia rate at the shelter has also been reduced by 21 percent.

“Our county has an animal population problem, but we are not the only area facing this problem,” the release said. “According to the American Humane Society, 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized nationally, or one every 8 seconds. Alabama counties vary from having a euthanization rate as low as 50 percent to as high as 85 percent or more. The more rural the county, the higher the euthanasia rate since rural counties usually have smaller and more poorly funded shelters.”

In 2014, the shelter had a 75-percent euthanasia rate.

The release said some of this was due to parvo outbreaks that occurred during a heavy puppy season in the spring, and the fact that the shelter building can only house 100-120 animals at one time.

In the spring, puppies would end up on the concrete, and it didn’t seem any chemical could kill the parvo virus. Plus, any new puppies coming in with parvo would infect the others, the release said.

In 2015, the shelter took several steps to avoid those issues. The shelter was re-arranged, and there is now an isolation area to hold stray puppies, small and medium-sized dogs and to make sure they are not sick before entering the general population.

The puppy and small dog room was moved, and all puppies are now placed in kennels in stainless steel wall kennels.

The shelter also decided to erect outside kennels, giving the dogs the opportunity for play and increasing the population of larger dogs the shelter can maintain.

“We developed a standard operating procedure for the shelter staff to follow on euthanasia. Space is now the last item on our list for euthanasia, and we haven’t euthanized for space in many months at this time,” according to the release. “Director Kimberly Ruck, worked closely with rescue to increase the number of animals who were rescued. President Krystine Gish worked with some amazing donors and in the last three months conducted adoption specials. During the month of October 2015, with our $20 donation adoption special, we adopted 121 animals, a record that shattered previous records and one that we’d love to break. We also held adoption specials for veterans, and for black dogs and cats both with the backing of donors.”

The shelter also lowered the normal adoption fees in 2015. Cats went from an $80 adoption fee to $25 for cats over six months, and $50 for kittens. The price was also lowered for dogs from $125 to $100, and $85 to $50 for senior dogs 6 years and older.

A Trap, Neuter and Release (TNR) program, a long-term goal, was also started in 2015.

Board member Michelle Monahan organized a small but dedicated team of volunteers to trap feral cat colonies and transport them to Birmingham to the nonprofit Alabama Spay Neuter Clinic.

After the cats are “fixed,” they are returned to their colonies if they have a caretaker, or they can go into the Barn Cat Program where the shelter offers the cats free to people to control the rodent population in their barns and out buildings.

In the three months since this program has been in existence, more than 100 cats have been trapped and “fixed.”

“This program will greatly reduce the amount of unwanted cats roaming wild and starving to death in our area, and will in the long-run reduce the amount of cats coming into the shelter,” according to the release.

The shelter is no longer a “high-kill shelter” and can celebrate one of the lowest euthanasia rates in the state for 2015 at 54 percent, according to the release.

“But, we are not satisfied,” the release said. “Fifty-four percent was still far too many animals euthanized. However, we need help from the local community to reduce this rate even further.”

With the spring puppy season coming up, the shelter reminds individuals to get pets spayed or neutered.

The Alabama Spay Neuter Clinic is offering free transport from Chilton County to their location in Birmingham for lower cost spay and neuters, and individuals can receive further reductions in cost if they receive any sort of government assistance or if they are on Social Security.

For more information about Alabama Spay Neuter Clinic, call (205) 956-0012.

The shelter is also in need of more monetary donations including an electrician who can help erect a new scrolling programmable sign donated by Johnson Controls’ Blue Sky Project and someone to help move the old sign.

The shelter is also in need of people with machinery to help level areas for new kennels, and concrete workers and carpenters are also needed.

“Things are not perfect. We still deal with a shelter building that can only house 100-120 animals where a lot of the heaters don’t work and the washers and dryers we have are second hand and fail to keep up with the load,” the release said. “We need more kennels in the play yards. We have roughly five acres and want to utilize more of that space. We have certainly had our stumbles this past year. After all, dealing with the amount of animals that we receive is overwhelming. Just last month, 197 animals came to the shelter. In the height of the spring puppy/kitten season, that number has gone as high as 311.”

The shelter also struggled through financial problems but only had to close the shelter doors to paint the building inside and out.

“The board feels we are well on our way to having a shelter the citizens of Chilton County can be proud of, and a humane society overseeing it that helps the community reduce the population problem. The shelter has never had as many volunteers as we have now, but we need more to get more accomplished.”

The shelter is located at 139 Shade Tree Drive in Clanton. For more information about the shelter, call (205) 755-9170.