I am seeing a lot of buzz on social media today about a story a local television station did about the euthanasia rate at the Regional Center for Animal Control and Protection — the pound that is a contracted facility between the city and county of Roanoke, Botetourt County and Vinton.
The commonwealth mandates that every locality must have a pound for dogs. Local law mandates that cats are handled through the pound. Statistics are kept for these and other registered animal shelters through the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services through the office of the State Veterinarian.
Here you can find the 2010 numbers for many of the shelters and pounds in the commonwealth, including RCACP, the Roanoke Valley SPCA, FERAL, Salem Animal Control and Pound (which also serves Craig County), League for Animal Protection, Montgomery County Animal Control and Pound, and other area rescue groups and shelters.
If you do not see a specific shelter listed for 2010, it could be because the state has not posted that shelter’s annual report yet. Check 2009 and you will find those numbers.
From what I have learned in the last few years writing about pets, there is a process at RCACP, based on state and local laws, for stray intakes that involves checking for collar tags and microchips, holding strays for a certain length of time to allow owners to reclaim their animals. There are also procedures that are followed for seizures and for owner-relinquished pets.
All of these policies are followed before an animal is evaluated for temperment and other factors that would determine the pet’s likelihood of being adopted.
Dogs and cats that are deemed to be unhealthy or too aggressive may be euthanized.
Based on available space at the RVSPCA, which is adjacent to RCACP, animals are moved to the SPCA, which is a non-profit, no-kill shelter, where they are spayed/neutered and microchippped and placed for adoption.
As long as space permits, pets determined to be good adoptive prospects are held at RCACP for longer than the period mandated by law until space opens at the RVSCPA, LAP or other local shelters.
If space does not permit, because of the number of new strays, seizures and relinquishes that the law mandates must be held for a specific length of time, then potentially-adoptable pets might be euthanized.
Animals can be adopted from RCACP, but almost always if a person chooses to adopt a pet from the cages at RCACP, that animal is transferred to the RVSPCA or another adoption group.
The numbers you will find on RCACP’s report are alarming. The number that alarms me the most is the intake number. There are way too many animals that end up at the pound for a variety of reasons and there are not enough homes for them all. But numbers need context, and I have only scratched the surface here in trying to explain what this all means.
But this I will tell you with certainty: There are too many animals at the pound because there are too many people who do not spay or neuter their pets and/or do not take proper care to make sure their pets do not roam the streets. A pound is a necessary part of public safety. The best way to reduce these numbers is to reduce the numbers of unwanted litters and to educate people about keeping their pets under control and correcting behavior issues.
Accomplish those initiatives and the intake, and the euthanasia, numbers would drop dramatically.
To see the pets available for adoption at the pound, visit its website or “like” its Facebook page.