Kitten population overflowing

September 15, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Things are slacking off at the Antietam Humane Society Inc.'s animal shelter now that fall is coming and the "kitten season" is about over, officials there said Monday.

Summer is the time of year when most kittens are born and every summer the shelter on Lyons Road takes in nearly 700 of them. Most end up being put to sleep, said Betsy Camp, 57, the society's executive director.

"One morning when we came to work we found a bag with 27 kittens inside. Somebody had dropped it off. All of them were sick. Their eyes were closed and their noses were running," she said. All 27 had to be put down.


"A single female cat can produce 40,000 offspring, with her babies having babies and on and on. When you think about that, that's an awful lot of cats," she said.

Camp said many kittens are born on area farms. "Most farmers have barn cats to keep the mice down and most don't have them spayed or neutered. Mothers breed with sons, fathers with daughters, brothers with sisters. That's why we end up with kittens with one eye or three legs," she said.

Also, she said, cats stray off the farm where they were born and breed with other cats, causing even more unwanted kittens.

"Many become wild and we start getting calls about a lot of cats running around. We don't keep wild or sick cats. That's not a reality here," she said. "I just wish people would spay and neuter their pets."

Waynesboro and Mercersburg have borough ordinances banning cats from leaving their owners' property, she said.

Camp said the shelter takes in about 800 dogs a year, most of which are adopted out. Those that are sick, aggressive or that have bitten someone are put to sleep, she said. The same is true of older dogs that are hard to adopt. "Few people want a dog 6 or 7 years old," she said.

The society runs on a budget of about $160,000 a year, Camp said. The money comes from donations, dues and fund-raisers, she said. It has four full-time employees, five part-timers and volunteers.

The shelter was built in 1976. A 54-acre farm plus $250,000 in cash was bequeathed to the society by Florence B. Lyon, who died in 1973. In return, the society had to care for her animals, including some thoroughbred race horses and some dogs and cats, until they all died. The last horse, a thoroughbred mare named Sea Sego, died in 1993.

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