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Humane Society figures alarming to some

October 16, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The Humane Society of Washington County has euthanized 722 animals since July 1. That is more than twice the number of animals the organization has adopted out, according to Humane Society documents.

Humane Society Executive Director Maria Procopio presented the numbers to the County Commissioners on Tuesday.

The animals killed include 579 cats and 128 dogs from July 1 through the first week of October, the documents state.

Procopio said the Humane Society put down 80 cats last week and sometimes takes in 40 to 50 animals a week.

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The numbers led Commissioners Vice President Paul L. Swartz to question where the county's animal lovers are.

"That's an awful lot of animals being put to sleep," Swartz said after the meeting.

Since July 1, the organization has taken in 1,162 animals and gotten rid of - through euthanasia, adoption or other means - 1,174 since that time. In addition to the dead animals, 300 were adopted, 70 were reunited with their owners, 27 died, two went to wildlife rehabilitators and 64 were placed elsewhere.

The 1,162 animals taken in include 550 that were turned over by their owners; 640 were strays and 21 were born at the Humane Society.

Procopio said pets are given to the Humane Society for several reasons, including the death of owners and divorces.

"It doesn't make me happy at all," Swartz said.

Swartz said he was sick to his stomach after taking a tour of the Humane Society Tuesday.

"It made my stomach flip-flop to see these dogs and cats looking up at you with their longing eyes saying, 'Please take me,'" Swartz said. "It just tears you up. It looked like all the animals in there were beautiful animals."

Swartz and Commissioner Bert Iseminger said they wish no animals had to be put to sleep by the Humane Society, but the resources aren't available to accomplish that.

"It would be great to convince people to take them into their lives," Iseminger said after the meeting. "In a perfect world, there wouldn't be a need for a Humane Society."

Swartz and Iseminger said the county needs to strongly promote the spaying and neutering of animals and responsible pet ownership.

"I certainly am in favor of a no-kill shelter, but we just can't support that," Swartz said.

The County Commissioners give the Humane Society about $500,000 a year, according to the county's budget.

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