Shelter intake declines but euthanasia continues

By Connie A. Hewitt | Aug 19, 2014
Photo by: Donna Murray Waiting for a home.  Shelter cat intakes are down 17% compared to 2013, but another 32 cats were euthanized in July as homeless and unwanted.  Shelter dog intakes were down 7%, but another 24 were put down in July.  An average of 1.7 dogs and cats are euthanized every day in Haywood County's animal shelter.

Animal advocates and taxpayers alike will be thrilled to learn that fewer unwanted dogs and cats of all ages have been surrendered to the county shelter so far this year compared to 2013.  Through July 31, shelter cat intakes are down 17 percent and shelter dog intakes are down 7 percent.

One reason for the dramatic decrease in cat intakes this year is the ongoing activities of the Haywood Spay/Neuter trap-neuter-return (TNR) team, which has fixed over 3,000 community cats in over 500 locations around Haywood County since 2009.

“Our volunteers have humanely captured 458 stray or free-roaming community cats for spay/neuter surgery and vaccinations between February and mid-August this year,” said Susan Kumpf, the organization’s TNR coordinator.  “Except for a few litters relocated through our Kittens2Barns project, all were returned to their colony with a better chance of a healthy life and no more unwanted litters, mating, or fighting.”

Cats can have their first heat season as young as 4 months of age, dogs at 5 months, with both delivering their first litter when only 6 or 7 months old.  Too young to care for offspring, many littermates fail to survive the first few months of life. Surviving feral kittens are taken to the shelter to face an uncertain future or are given away unfixed and unvaccinated – doomed to repeat the cycle.

Recently granted their 501(c)(3) as a charitable organization, Feline Urgent Rescue (FUR) of WNC’s mission is to help displaced kittens and cats find new homes, providing sanctuary and foster settings until then.

“Feral kitten rescue keeps us busy this time of year,” said Rachel West, FUR’s president. “Being a young ‘momcat’ responsible for up to five kittens makes survival especially difficult for feral litters. We’ve seen the health benefits of TNR and early spay/neuter of kittens.”

Kittens fixed at 3 months of age prevents a first litter and allows both rabies and distemper vaccinations at time of surgery.

“You can recognize a TNR cat by the clipped left eartip, indicating it is fixed and vaccinated,” said Kumpf.

Despite increased interest in shelter pet adoptions and lower intakes, Haywood County taxpayers euthanized another 24 dogs and 32 cats in July — less than 50 percent of the number put down last year in July but still bringing the total for 2014 to 362 animals. That’s an average of 1.7 dogs and cats euthanized every day this year through July 31, including weekends and holidays.

Be responsible and help friends and neighbors be responsible as well. Take action now to prevent the first unplanned litters from puppies and kittens thought too young to mate.

Call HS/N at 452-1329 and ask about the $10 Fall Fix special available to all Haywood County pet owners.