Shelter numbers are down

Published 7:00 am Friday, December 29, 2017

By Mrudvi Bakshi

and Jeremy Pittari

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Euthanizations and intake numbers decreased slightly at the Pearl River County SPCA between 2016 and 2017.

Shelter Director Judy Wheaton said that during 2017 a total of 2,746 dogs and cats, including puppies and kittens, were brought into the shelter, a decrease from 2016 when 2,926 animals were brought in.

Of those numbers, 862 animals were euthanized this year, compared to 1,113 animals in 2016.

Homes for 1,796 animals were found this year, compared to 1,797 homes last year.

She’s been able to control the shelter population by working with the public.

“When locals bring in an animal to surrender at a time when we are out of space, they agree to hold onto them for a week or longer, even if it’s a stray dog, and that really helps,” Wheaton said.

Wheaton said it’s painful to have to put a pet down, but most of those that are euthanized are unhealthy or in serious pain.

The expense of caring for an animal while at the shelter goes above room and board. Wheaton said staff not only ensure the animals are fed and given medications they are also vaccinated and wormed.

Funding at the shelter has been an issue over previous years. Wheaton said the shelter receives $70,000 in funding from the city and Pearl River County Board of Supervisors, but has an annual operating expense of $400,000. The difference in those numbers is covered by adoption fees, which at times may be increased when the shelter has rare or high interest breeds on hand.

Of the many people who work at the shelter, only seven are full time paid employees, and there’s a part time data entry employee as well. Wheaton said she and all of the rest of those who work at the shelter do so as volunteers.