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HAWC to stop killing animals
Apr 06, 2004 12:00 am
Though officials say they are "still working out the logistics," Wilson County Humane Association will no longer euthenize animals "just to make space" for other unwanted pets, a decision that could have a profound impact on the county's animal control efforts.
The organization informed the Wilson County Solid Waste Authority, which oversees animal control for the county, of its decision during the panel's meeting yesterday morning.
Humane Association Vice President Mark Street said the organization's leadership voted unanimously to end its longstanding policy of continually killing animals in order to make space available for other pets who are often eventually destoyed.
"We're not going to keep killing healthy adult pets in order to simply make space in the shelter for other animals," he said.
Street told the authority the decision would have a "dramatic impact" on the county's animal control operation and urged officials to form a committee to deal with the almost certain increase in unwanted pets they will soon face.
Street and other Humane Association officials said the group's reputation often suffers among volunteers and potential financial supporters "because they know so much of what we do is killing."
He said the group has problems holding on to employees and reliable volunteers because "70 percent of their work is killing."
The non-profit agency destroys almost 4,000 animals yearly, a figure Street said the group is desperate to decrease.
He said that can be accomplished only by the association "shifting its focus" from destroying animals to "an aggressive campaign of education, adoption"and spay and neutering campaigns.
Commissioner Wayne Drennan initially gave the news a chilly greeting, asking pointedly if the association was planning to "pick and choose" which animals it will accept and pointing out that the county makes a yearly donation to the organization.
But other members of the Authority, most notably Mayor Bob Dedman and District 16 Commissioner Gilbert Graves were much more conciliatory, asking for the group's input on forming a committee to deal with the issue from the county's standpoint.
Street pledged the association will cooperate in helping to see the committee get started, but reminded members "animal control is a function of the government."
He said the group wanted to inform the authority before making its new policy decision public in order to allow officials to prepare for the "overflow" of animals "that we will no longer be able to accept."
After the meeting, Street and other association representatives portrayed the decision as one the group is approaching slowly, emphasizing several times that all details of its new policy have yet to be worked out.
But he also repeated numerous times that the shelter will not continue to destroy animals "to make space for healthy adult pets" and will be "limiting our access" once the group agrees on details of the policy change.
The authority agreed to seat a committee to look into how the change will affect the county, which will include at least one veterinarian as well as members of a variety of animal rights groups.