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County, shelter consider deal on carcass disposal

April 07, 2000|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Humane Society is hoping to strike a deal with the county government for the removal of dead animals.

Both are trying to find replacements for Valley Proteins, a Winchester, Va., company that had removed dead animals for numerous municipalities and animal shelters in the Tri-State area but stopped at the end of March.

Berkeley County is facing an additional problem: None of its employees are certified to euthanize stray animals.

The Humane Society has offered to euthanize the county's strays, or try to find homes for them, if the county takes away the Humane Society's dead animals.

Berkeley County is planning to temporarily take its dead animals to an incinerator operated by the Valley Pet Crematory and Cemetery, which is based in Williamsport, Md.

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Animal Control Officer Ray Strine told the County Commission on Thursday he is still trying to work out a schedule with Valley Pet.

The situation also is affecting the City of Martinsburg, which pays the county to remove its dead animals, according to Berkeley County Administrator Deborah Sheetenhelm-Hammond.

Valley Pet charges about $18 to $20 per animal to remove an average-sized animal weighing about 30 pounds, according to Gregory I. Snook, one of the owners.

Berkeley County plans to save money by having its employees bring the animals to the incinerator.

Commissioner Robert Burkhart expressed reservations about the Humane Society's idea because of the costs.

Berkeley County euthanized almost 800 animals last year, according to Strine.

Joann Overington, treasurer of the Humane Society, told the commission that the society euthanized 1,906 dogs and cats last year, while another 975 were adopted.

The county's resulting savings in euthanasia expenses would be less than the extra amount it would spend on transporting the society's animals, Burkhart said.

A veterinarian has offered to euthanize the county's animals for $8 each plus a $35 fee for the trip, according to Burkhart. Usually, a group of six to eight animals are euthanized at one time, Strine said.

Without the county's help, the Humane Society may have to cut down its services, perhaps taking in only pets turned in by their owners, Overington said.

"It could break us over a period of time," she said.

Commissioner John Wright said that would put a burden on the county's Animal Control Department. "We'd have to do it anyway if they shut down," he said.

The commission asked Overington to figure out how much the Humane Society could contribute toward the cost of removing animals.

Overington said it would help greatly to have a spay-and-neuter fund to cut down on unwanted animals.

"It's a waste of life and no matter how you look at it, we're killing so many every month, and the numbers are not going to go down," she said.

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