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SPCA almost out of room for animals

June 06, 1999

SPCA filling upBy ERIN HEATH / Staff Writer

photo: MARLA BROSE / staff photographer




The Washington County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has come close to reaching the maximum capacity for its animal storage, Executive Director Shelly Moore said.

Late last week, the shelter had 26 dogs, four short of its capacity. It also had 18 cats, two rabbits and two cockateels.

And with warm weather, the numbers can jump quickly, Moore said.

"There are some days in the summer we may get 10, 15, 20 dogs in," she said.

Moore said problems with space in the shelter occur mostly in the summer because that's when more dogs and cats have litters. Also, people spend more time outdoors during warm weather, and therefore they tend to see more stray animals.

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"If we don't have room to hold any more animals, then we do have to euthanize animals for space," Moore said.

Putting the animals to sleep is necessary when space runs out because the shelter does not turn animals away, she said. Shelter employees base their decision to put an animal to sleep on such factors as its age, health, temperament and the length of time it has spent in the shelter.

The shelter currently has 20 indoor and outdoor runs for dogs, 10 temporary dog cages and 30 cat cages. To increase the SPCA's capacity, Moore said she is involved in plans for a new building on the site. The new facility would have four times the capacity of the current one. Moore said she would like to see construction begin next year.

On Tuesday, the Washington County Commissioners will vote on funding for the new building.

County Commissioner Paul L. Swartz said he thought the timing of the shelter's announcement it had reached near maximum capacity coincided with the upcoming vote.

"I think it's a good strategy on their part," he said.

Moore said the timing was coincidental and that SPCA staffers just wanted to see more people adopt pets so that the animals in the shelter could find homes.

County Commissioners also will vote on a contract for the SPCA to do long-term animal control.

Animal control involves the protection of people and animals, Moore said. It includes dealing with animals that are biting people, killing livestock or running at large, as well as rescuing animals that are hurt or in danger.

A long-term commitment from the county is necessary before the new building is built, she said, because "70 percent of the animals that come through our doors are animal-control animals."

If the SPCA does not form a contract to do animal control for the county, Moore said, construction of a new building would still go forward but it would be a much smaller facility.

As an incentive for adopting a dog, the SPCA is offering a 25 percent discount on obedience training with participating canine professionals in the area. Dogs are $73, female cats are $65 and male cats are $41. The cost includes a spay or neuter operation and primary vaccinations, a heartworm test for dogs and a feline leukemia test for cats.

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