Valdosta Daily Times

June 12, 2013

Animal shelter suffers over-crowding

Kristin Finney
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Since June 1 of this year, meaning in the last 11 days, more than 260 animals have been brought into the Lowndes County Animal Shelter. Of the 260, 167 have had to be euthanized.

While the shelter is truly only supposed to have three or four dogs per cage, they are usually averaging about five or six per cage to try to compensate for the large amount of animals. As new animals are brought in, animals that are not adopted must be euthanized.

Paige Dukes, Lowndes County clerk and public information officer, said, "The over-population of animals in Lowndes County is not an animal problem, it is a people problem. It is a problem that has a direct relation to the public safety, health and welfare of our community. It is a problem that can be fixed with one simple solution, the spaying or neutering of pets."

To help fight the overcrowding in shelters, those in the market to purchase pets are encouraged to adopt shelter pets and avoid puppy mills.

"There are many reasons to adopt a shelter pet with the first being adopters are benefiting from a healthy pet that has been spayed or neutered. In addition, shelter pets are evaluated before they are ever placed in an adoption room to make sure their behavior around people is acceptable," Dukes said.

While many people interested in purchasing pets are looking for animals with a pedigree, these animals might not always be best, Dukes said.

"Commerce of this type is contributing to the over-population problem since some buyers intend to recover their investment by breeding the animal and having another litter with the intention of selling the puppies.  The reality of this process is that many of these animals end up unwanted, are taken to the shelter and euthanized. In the event you must purchase a pet outside of the animal shelter, please make sure you are dealing with a reputable, licensed breeder. In addition, consider your new pet an investment and do not breed it."

In 2012, the Lowndes County Animal Shelter received 5,870 animals. Of this number, 1,433 were adopted or rescued, 386 were reclaimed and 4,031 were euthanized. While some of these euthanizations were a result of illness or disease, a large portion of that number was simply due to the shelter's inability to keep all of the animals.

Another way to help fight shelter overcrowding is to have pets microchipped. All of the local vets and the shelter have scanners and immediately scan all of the pets brought in. A large number of animals brought into the shelter are runaways that could easily be returned home if they were microchipped. The cost to get an animal microchipped is $25.

Anyone looking to adopt a new member of their family can come by the shelter or one of the adoption events during any of the adoption days. The price for dog adoption is $105 and cats are $85. This cost ensures that all pets have received a rabies vaccination, been spayed or neutered and micro-chipped for identification purposes.

Adoptions and microchipping are available at the Lowndes County Animal Shelter, noon-4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; noon-3 p.m, and Monday and Saturday. For those who are not comfortable coming to the shelter, there are adoption events held almost every weekend at PetSmart and also all of the cats at PetSmart are shelter cats. More information: Call (229) 671-2760.