Animal euthanasia high in Augusta

Monday, April 1, 2013 8:04 PM
Last updated Tuesday, April 2, 2013 5:24 AM
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Facing limited shelter capacity and pressure not to turn away an animal in need, the city of Augusta often finds itself burdened with the lose-lose choice of euthanizing healthy pets to combat what appears to be a serious problem with strays.

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Harley, a shelty mix, is one of the dogs available for adoption.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
Harley, a shelty mix, is one of the dogs available for adoption.

Statistics released Monday show that between 65 percent and 70 percent of the animals admitted into Augusta’s Rescue Shelter each year are put down.

Although the number accounts for not only cats and dogs but also undomesticated animals, such as raccoons, deer and opossums, the shelter’s euthanization rate is well above the national average, which one study shows stands near 50 percent.

The problem is expected to continue in Richmond County, Augusta Animal Services officials said Monday as they braced for “breeding season” – April to June – when the city’s shelter is overwhelmed with litters of kittens and puppies.

“I would love not to have to euthanize any animals,” said Sharon Broady, Augusta Animal Services director. “It’s emotionally taxing on staff.”

Records kept at the city’s shelter off To­bac­co Road show 6,760 of the 9,650 animals admitted at the facility last year were euthanized – a total that Broady said has remained constant for much of the recent past.

For comparison, she cited 2011’s numbers, which were much the same: of the 9,875 admitted, 66 percent, or 6,590, were euthanized.
The practice of euthanasia to end the lives of healthy adoptable animals has long been controversial in the U.S. and is conducted in many parts of the country because open-admission shelters typically choose not to turn animals away.

According to statistics from the Asilomar Accords, a group of activists who track animal shelter care and euthanasia numbers, U.S. shelters that they track put to sleep about 41,200 of the 85,200 they receive each year.

There is no centralized database for shelters in Georgia, said Mary Yearta, the press secretary for the state Depart­ment of Agriculture.

Asilomar Accords posts annual statistics for about 150 different U.S. shelters on its Web site. Only one in Georgia volunteers its data – the Columbus-Muscogee County Humane Society. According to its latest available reports, euthanasia doubled from 31 to 63 animals in 2007, while the intake of strays increased by only 9 percent, to 736 dogs and cats.

Bucking the trend, Athens-Clarke County in the past year cut in half the number of cats and dogs it euthanized, going from 252 of the 1,910 cats and dogs that were adoptable last year to only 77 of the 1,200 taken in this year.

At the root of the problem, said Ed Jefferson, an animal control officer in Augusta for the past 20 years, is irresponsible breeding – pet owners failing to get their animals spayed or neutered, leading to unwanted offspring.

Other factors, Jefferson said, are low adoption rates and the “disposable pet” ethos of today’s society. Owners are quick to relinquish their pets for any number of reasons.

“Owners need to vaccinate, microchip, spay or neuter their pets and keep them contained,” he said. “Feeding stray animals causes a lot of problems for our society, chiefly cats and dogs multiplying and overrunning our shelter.”
Broady said Augusta Animal Service, by law, must hold an admitted animal five days to give its owner a fair opportunity to reclaim the pet. After the clearance period passes, the department can adopt, euthanize or transfer the animal to a rescue group.

“We try to find each animal a home as quick as we can, focusing primarily on the ones we have had the longest, but sometimes it can take six months to a year,” Broady said.

The director said 268 animals are at its facility at 4124 Mack Lane. Adoption fees are $65 for cats, $75 for male dogs and $85 for females. Senior citizens and members of the military pay only $50.

“We have the best prices in town,” Jef­ferson said. “All animals are already spayed, neutered, tested, microchipped and vaccinated. All they need is a home.”

PET ADOPTION

Augusta Animal Services Director Sharon Broady said 268 animals are at the shelter.

WHERE: 4124 Mack Lane

WHEN: The shelter is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

ADOPTION FEES: $65 for cats, $75 for male dogs and $85 for female dogs

CONTACT: (706) 790-6836

Comments (16) Add comment
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itsanotherday1
46670
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itsanotherday1 04/01/13 - 09:50 pm
6
0
Their adoption fees are a

Their adoption fees are a bargain compared to purchasing a pet from a breeder and having all of that done.

It makes me sick to hear of the euthanizations. Sorry bleeping owners should be ashamed for not preventing their pets from reproducing.

TheGeorgian
432
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TheGeorgian 04/01/13 - 09:57 pm
4
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Augusta Shelter

Applause for the shelter and for Priscilla Crisler, Kennel Manager, in particular. Mrs. Crisler has gone above and beyond the call of duty in trying to help these animals and to get them homes. I am holding a kitten named for her and which came from the shelter as I type this entry. Please, people, be responsible pet owners and when you want a pet, adopt; don't shop.

sassylassie
502
Points
sassylassie 04/01/13 - 10:55 pm
4
0
I adopted a dog from that

I adopted a dog from that shelter about 6 years ago and he is my HEART. I absolutely adore him and he is loyal not to mention a great watchdog. I can't help but treat him like he is one of my children.
I also adopted a cat from this shelter about 8 years ago and she is loving, sweet, clean and quiet. I would like to encourage more people who need a companion to visit the shelter and take home your forever friend. There are dozens of animals waiting for the right home. Trust me--those animals know, somehow, that they have been rescued when you get them home and settled in to their new life. I have never regretted adopting my pets from this shelter. THEY ARE WONDERFUL!
And kudos to our rescue groups in the CSRA who are desperately trying to fight the pet overpopulation problem. They are indeed to be commended for their tireless work. Now if the rest of the population would SPAY AND NEUTER their pets, now that we have so many low-cost clinics in our area with special prices for Spay/neutering, there is absolutely NO EXCUSE not to have this done.
When will our legislature toughen our laws on spay/neuter like some other states have done? It needs to happen NOW.

sassylassie
502
Points
sassylassie 04/01/13 - 10:58 pm
5
0
Chronicle idea?

Just an idea--could the Chronicle post an adoptable pet each day on its web site main page? I'd be willing to bet that with the publicity for these animals, we may see some find a home.

seenitB4
93264
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seenitB4 04/02/13 - 05:04 am
2
0
This breaks my heart

If you want a pet please consider adopting one of these.....the best protection in the world is a loving pet......I couldn't work at a facility & watch the death of so many animals....I would be too depressed on a daily basis...

seenitB4
93264
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seenitB4 04/02/13 - 05:06 am
2
0
Harley

That is a cute dog.....named after Harley...now if the name was seenit...I would have to pick it up ..:)

ReleehwEoj
124
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ReleehwEoj 04/02/13 - 06:14 am
2
0
This quote

attributed to Ed Jefferson makes no sense to me: “Feeding stray animals causes a lot of problems for our society, chiefly cats and dogs multiplying and overrunning our shelter". Hopefully he was misquoted. If not, is the implication that by NOT feeding strays that they will die off and therefore not burden society or the shelter?

Little Lamb
47847
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Little Lamb 04/02/13 - 06:51 am
2
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Breeding Season

We've got an un-neutered male cat prowling around our block, looking for companionship. I put out a trap the past two nights with no luck. I'll keep you posted on progress over on the R&Rs.

soapy_725
43947
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soapy_725 04/02/13 - 06:58 am
0
0
Irresponsible pet owners
Unpublished

mascaraing as Pet Lovers. Their deeds show them for liars.

Little Lamb
47847
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Little Lamb 04/02/13 - 07:39 am
2
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Statistics

It is meaningless to compare disparate animal shelter/rescue organizations and pronounce judgements on their euthanization rates. For example, this activist organization Asilomar Accords collects data from only one shelter in Georgia — Columbus-Muscogee County Humane Society. It euthanized 63 animals in 2007, out of 736 it took in. That's 9 percent.

Augusta-Richmond County Animal Control euthanized 6,760 of the 9,650 animals admitted at the facility in 2012. That's 70 percent.

But it is unfair to call that 70 percent number high (as in the headline of this story) merely because it's higher than some “national average” reported by an animal rights activist group. Obviously the group collects data from a tiny number of shelters, and they are likely chosen to present an agenda that reflects the group’s vision, goal, and strategy.

Comparing a large county government animal control shelter with an open admission policy to a small humane society shelter who is obviously more selective in admissions yields no meaningful data. I salute the work of the city workers out at the Tobacco Road shelter.

itsanotherday1
46670
Points
itsanotherday1 04/02/13 - 07:22 am
2
0
I think euthanasia rates have

I think euthanasia rates have as much to do with the local population as it does the shelter. If people aren't adopting, the shelters are left with few options.

itsanotherday1
46670
Points
itsanotherday1 04/02/13 - 07:24 am
1
0
Low cost spay

Can anyone point me to a low cost spay clinic? I have a friend on an extremely limited income that would like to get his dog spayed, but can't afford the going rates at the traditional vet offices.

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 04/02/13 - 07:27 am
2
0
Yet, where is the outrage

... when one of the small, but humane shelters is closed down by regulators with a vendetta? How many of those animals no longer cared for there are killed --euthanized is a 'weasel word'-- would have had a chance at living?

sassylassie
502
Points
sassylassie 04/02/13 - 07:32 am
2
0
Low cost spay neuter

Try Life Savers in North Augusta. Also, the Columbia County Humane Society periodically has special rates. Call them to find out. Heartsong Animal Rescue on Belair Road has very reasonable rates as well. Perhaps someone else may know of others?

Little Lamb
47847
Points
Little Lamb 04/02/13 - 07:38 am
3
0
Low Cost

Two that have good reputations are Heartsong Spay Neuter Clinic on Belair Road near I-20 and Dogwood Park Spay Neuter Clinic on Columbia Road out past Patriots Park.

nocnoc
46841
Points
nocnoc 04/02/13 - 08:59 am
3
0
Until

People see what happens behind the door in the killing room.

They will continue to: 1) buy puppies and rid themselves of them once they aren't cute anymore. 2) Lose interest in the pet when it requires any responsibility to kick in.

What these type of short term owners need, are Obama-Pets.

mixpix45
19
Points
mixpix45 04/02/13 - 09:44 am
4
0
If you can't adopt, try fostering

I volunteer with an animal rescue here in Augusta. It was started by an Active Duty Service Member at Fort Gordon, and she does everything she can to help rescue animals in need. The biggest hurdle to rescuing however is finding individuals willing to foster these animals temporarily. Food, medical, etc. is all covered by the rescue. If you want to help and you have the room in your home and heart, please consider saving a life. These animals deserve a second chance with owners that will love them. www.ruffrescues.com

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