“Great strides have been made in terms of animal welfare in Bartow County over the last several years, but we’re not content to rest on our laurels,” said Etowah Valley Humane Society Director Bryan Canty, who “applauds” the initiative of Bartow County Animal Control Director Debbie Elrod for helping organize tonight’s meeting. “So we have partnered with several regional and national organizations, [such as] Fix Georgia Pets, Target Zero and Best Friends Animal Society out of Utah to hopefully implement some strategies that they have that could significantly reduce euthanasia numbers in Bartow County.
“They have a program that’s been very, very successful on a national basis in terms of working with municipalities and in most cases they are able to get the euthanasia rate under 10 percent, which then qualifies that area as a no kill. One of the methods is to reduce the feral cat population. ... In Bartow County, we do have a significant feral cat problem. There’s really not anything you can do with them once they’re brought in. No one’s going to adopt them. No rescue is going to take them. So pretty much, their fate is sealed. We’re going to help reduce those numbers and hopefully reduce the blight that they have on our pet overpopulation problem.”
Like Canty, Elrod also is excited to learn more about how Bartow can work toward a no-kill shelter status.
“They’re going to do a presentation ... [for] the public,” Elrod said. “It has a lot to do [with] the capture and release of the wild, feral cats. While our euthanasia numbers are lower than they have ever been, I know everybody would like to see us get to where we could really consider ourselves a no-kill shelter. Hopefully, the plan that they’re wanting to put into place is going to help to do this.
“... When these wild, acceptable feral cats are caught, they’re wanting to be able to spay or neuter them, then release them back to the habitat they came from, which would mean there’s less euthanasias that would be done. So that’s basically what the presentation is supposed to be about — to help with the numbers to maybe get us to where we’re not having to euthanize anything.”
Located beside Bartow County Animal Control, the EVHS celebrated its 20th year of operating as a nonprofit in August 2016. Established in the mid-1990s as the Bartow County Humane Society, the organization changed its name to Etowah Valley Humane Society in 2006, the same year it opened the 4,928-square-foot shelter at 36 Ladds Mountain Road. Costing about $250,000 per year to operate, the facility consists of two staff offices, a quarantine room, two visitation rooms, temperature-controlled kennel runs, a cat room with about 24 cages, a puppy room with more than 20 cages, outdoor kennel runs and an on-site dog park.
“Of course, we’re looking at the tangible results that these programs once they’re implemented will attain, but we also want to make the general population know that Bartow County is proactive in this battle with pet overpopulation in our area,” Canty said. “We hope that anybody who is a concerned animal advocate will come to this and listen and learn and see what these people have to say. They are professionals. This is what they do. This is what they specialize in.
“... We’re working on the eighth consecutive year of reducing euthanasia. It’s currently at 26.6 percent,” he said, referring to Bartow’s euthanasia rate. “When you look at the national average — 56 percent of dogs and 71 percent of cats [brought to animal control facilities] are euthanized — and in the state of Georgia the euthanasia rate is approximately 72 percent overall. So we’re well below those averages. But, like I said, we’re not going to stop until we’re able to designate our community as a no kill.”
For more information about the Best Practice Strategies in Animal Welfare seminar, visit www.facebook.com/EtowahValleyHumane or www.eventbrite.com.