New Fix Haywood Initiative to Further Reduce County Euthanasias!

By Penny R Wallace | Jan 28, 2013
Photo by: Penny Wallace Join the Fix Haywood Revolution


January 28, 2013

Contact:         Penny Wallace


SUBJECT:     Fix Haywood

In August of 2012, a diverse group of people involved in animal welfare attended a “No-Kill” Conference in Washington, DC. Attending were volunteers from Sarge’s Animal Rescue Foundation, Haywood Spay/Neuter, the Haywood County Animal Shelter Advisory Committee and Haywood County Animal Service officers.  They attended seminars conducted by specialists and shelters nationwide; detailing how these groups had successfully reduced their euthanasia rates to fewer than 10%.  Upon their return, the Haywood attendees have been meeting to plan the best way to achieve a 90%+ rate of live release from the shelter.  Although the “No-Kill” movement stands for a 90% or better live release and some “No-Kill” shelters are now up to 98%.  Being realists, we know that true “no-kill” is impossible because the shelter does receive sick or vicious animals so we’ve decided that “Fix Haywood” is what we’ll call the movement for Haywood County.

The live release rate from county shelter has brought down the number of euthanized animals.  Increasing the number of spayed and neutered pets has brought down the number of shelter intakes, and adoption and rescue efforts have all played an important role in this change.

Demographics tell us that every year, roughly 23 million Americans are considering bringing a new dog or cat into their home and 17 million of those households have not decided where they will get that anima. If just 20% of those 17 million were adopted from a shelter, no savable animal would be euthanized!  Why then are we allowing so many animals in Haywood County to be euthanized?

The goal of “Fix Haywood” is a live release rate of 90% or better of dogs and cats that end up in the county shelter.  It is based on the success of “Austin Pets Alive”. Austin”, a city of 824,205 located in Travis County, TX, pop, 1,076,119 has a shelter intake of 14,000 pets per year.  Within 5 years the city has reduced its euthanasia rate to fewer than 10%!  The goal of “Fix Haywood” is to increase the live release rate at the county shelter to 90%+ but in less than 5 years!

How can this be accomplished?  The following is a list of things that need to be in place to achieve an increase in the live release rate and lower the euthanasia.  All have been shown to be effective in many shelters across the country and in our own WNC.

Have an active Trap-Neuter-Return Program for free roaming cats

  • Have High-Volume, Low-Cost Spay/Neuter available
  • Have active Rescue Groups
  • Have large numbers of Foster Care volunteers
  • Comprehensive Adoption Programs at the shelter and through rescue groups
  • Encourage Pet Retention by Owners
  • Available Medical and Behavior Programs
  • Good Public Relations/Community Development
  • Volunteers
  • Proactive Redemption (helping owners find/keep their pets)
  • Compassionate Shelter Director

The good news is we are beginning to make it happen:

  • Haywood Spay/Neuter has an ongoing TNR program. These efforts resulted in the number of cats entering the shelter to go down by an amazing 21% over the prior year. 
  • Haywood Spay/Neuter’s low-cost spay-neuter program has provided over 13,000 surgeries in the last 10 years!  In 2012 it provided 2,560.
  • Sarge’s Animal Rescue Foundation and its volunteers has rescued over 3,300 dogs and cats in the last three years.
  • Sarge’s has a foster program for the dogs and cats it rescues from the shelter, more fosters are needed to bring about a 90%+ live release rate. 
  • The shelter with Sarge’s help does offer special adoption programs during the year to encourage the public to adopt.
  • Because of these successful efforts the shelter euthanasia rate for cats was down from 68% in 2011 to 53% in 2012. 

The community can help in these efforts as well:

  • Provide ID tags or microchips for your pets so they can be returned to you. For the past 12 years, redemption rates for stray dogs averaged 16% and a dismal 2% for cats!  An increase in those numbers would help achieve that goal of a 90% live release rate.
  • Tell your elected officials you want to Fix Haywood
  • Write letters to the editors
  • Help find grants for shelter expansion/improvement
  • Be an adoption volunteer at the shelter
  • Adopt a cat
  • Adopt a dog

Cutting the euthanasia rate at the shelter will save the taxpayers’ dollars.  The cost of euthanasia from intake to the end is a minimum $52.00 of our taxpayer dollars.  For 2011 that cost was $83,772.  The reduction in intakes and live release rate for the 2012 reduced that cost to $63,648 a savings of over $20,000!  It makes more economic sense to increase adoptions, transfer animals to rescue groups and get stray animals returned to their owners than to euthanize them.  Pet owners also impact the local economy positively by their spending on food, toys, and veterinarian services.

Join us in our efforts to Fix Haywood.  To volunteer your talents, or further information Contact us at