What a difference a year makes. More adoptions, less euthanizations and an all together cleaner operation as a whole has spelled a complete turnaround for the Sampson County Animal Shelter, officials said.
As part of ongoing departmental reports, shelter director Alan Canady recently briefed the Sampson Board of Commissioners on the state of the facility, which is more positive than it has ever been, he noted.
In 2013, the shelter adopted out 1,151 animals to local homes and rescue organizations. The total intake was 3,672 animals, with the euthanasia rate under half, at 47 percent. Those numbers are a drastic change from years past, when the euthanasia rate was much higher and adoptions much lower.
“We brought in roughly 1,000 more animals in 2013 than we did in 2012,” Canady said. “Even though roughly 1,000 more animals were brought into the county, our adoption and rescue rate went up 46 percent. In 2012, we only adopted and rescued around 500 animals. Our euthanasia rate decreased by 20 percent in 2013, which is a very good mark. The state average is between 65-70 percent for most counties. Ours is at 47 percent, so we’re doing an excellent job.”
He also stacked those numbers up to surrounding counties and others.
“There are counties that bring in roughly 12,000 animals a year and they don’t adopt out as many as we do,” said Canady, “so we’re doing a really good job.”
And the job was being done with a more limited staff than other counties have, the director pointed out.
He said the staff has strived to clean up the shelter, which greatly assists controlling disease. Thanks to an approved budget request last year, the shelter added barriers between pens to keep dogs from coming in contact with each other and to keep personnel from spreading diseases and viruses while they are cleaning.
“That has made a world of difference,” Canady attested. “Parvo is a bad virus that dogs catch and transmit very easily. When I first came on (at the beginning of 2013), we used to have 10 or 15 cases a month. We haven’t had 10 or 15 cases this year. That is something we have stopped from even starting in our shelter. Animals do still come in with it, but because of this they are not allowed to transmit through the population.”
Since the first months of 2013 the shelter also started vaccinating all adoptable dogs with 5-way vaccinations (puppy shots), as well as bordatella and rabies vaccinations, another practice that stops the spread of disease. All adoptable cats get the same kind of treatment with FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia) vaccinations. Both cats and dogs receive necessary de-wormer upon intake.
“This practice makes the animal’s overall condition better and the animal is less susceptible to disease and viruses found within the shelter,” Canady remarked.
He asked the board to continue assisting in further cutting the spread of disease as part of an additional expenditure in the shelter’s requested 2014-15 budget. The floors in the shelter are made of concrete and there are 3-foot high cinder block barriers between each kennel — neither have protective coating.
“We have already taken several measures to help disease control, but as we all know concrete is porous and therefore holds bacteria no matter how much cleaning is done,” Canady said. “With our concrete being sealed, our cleaning would be more productive and decrease the chance for parvovirus outbreaks. With less disease the public would also have more confidence that our animals are not sick, therefore causing the adoption (and) rescue rate to increase.”
That sealing would be in the form of four coats of rolled epoxy, costing about $7,000-$8,000, he said.
“They would do the entire shelter,” Canady said. “The concrete was initially sealed when the shelter was built, but it’s been about eight years now.”
He pointed to sections that were still sealed and others that were not. With the work,the drab gray walls could be turned white, making the shelter brighter and any dirt more obvious so it can be cleaned.
Also in the shelter’s 2014-15 proposed budget, Canady said there is a $5,000 increase in supplies. A state inspection just last month showed much improvement in impound records, while also showing the shelter was in a more sanitary condition than it ever has been. The shelter director noted that it must stay that way to keep in compliance with state standards..
“The costs related to supplies for the upkeep of the shelter and for animal health has increased from our vendors,” Canady said. “Our shelter is finally at a point where it should have been all along. I’ve found it takes more supplies to keep it that way.”
Removing the gas chamber has also brought added upkeep costs, but Canady deemed its removal “100 percent the best thing we could have ever done, not only in my eyes, but in the public’s eyes.”
County manager Ed Causey agreed, saying the public’s perception of the shelter has changed.
“The whole thing has taken a complete turnaround,” Causey remarked. “I think the public has picked up on that cleanliness as much as anything.”
He also cited a good working relationship between shelter staff and the Animal Control officers.
“All in all, I think the public sees that the staff is more professional, and the department is more professional than what it ever has been,” Canady said. “I think they see that we are not lazy, we are here for the animals and to serve the public. It goes a long way when they see the cleanliness of the shelter and responsiveness of staff.”
He pointed back to higher adoption rates and lower euthanasia numbers.
“We’ve definitely come a long way in one year,” said Canady. “We have a staff here now that I feel truly care for what they do.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.