Stepping up to help pets at Montgomery County pound

After WRAL aired a piece last week on the astoundingly high kill rate at the Montgomery County pound, the reaction of many people was “how can I help?” I got several emails from people, including Jared Milrad, who wants to help the Montgomery County Humane Society (which does NOT run the county pound) build an adoption center adjacent to the pound. I sent him some contact info for the MCHS, and now he’s launched a Causes.com page to help raise money.*

According to his page, the MCHS needs another $7,000 to build a modern adoption center on county land. Such a center would be a great step toward reducing the killing at the  Montgomery County pound, which seems to be a rather depressing  place for prospective adopters to visit and doesn’t even have regular adoption hours. A clean, welcoming environment where families can meet the pets (and which one hopes will be open some evenings and weekends when working people can get there) may inspire many local folks to adopt, donate, volunteer and otherwise become active in caring for their community’s homeless pets.

*Contact information for the MCHS in on their Petfinder page, if you have questions or would like to do due diligence.

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9 responses to “Stepping up to help pets at Montgomery County pound

  1. Susan McFarland

    Hello! I live in Beaufort County, NC, where I just heard from a member of the Beaufort County Humane Society that the shelter kills at least 6,000 animals a year by gas. I haven’t confirmed that figure, but is seems plausible because the county-published number was 2,700 in about 2007. Local Beaufort County Humane Society volunteers do what they can to care for the animals, thus freeing up the time of four paid staff members. Dedicated volunteers clean cages and bring food donated by Wal-Mart to the shelter. However, the humane society does not seem able to promote the animals on the Internet, and it has no Facebook page. The group also seems to be run by individuals who don’t want anything to change, regardless of whether a change would help the animals. My friend has donated thousands of dollars to the shelter, in hopes that it would end the gassing and hold the animals longer, but to no avail. She now is putting strings on any money she gives the shelter. Meanwhile, the plight of these animals is almost unknown by the public.Any suggestions?

    • I think people in Beaufort County should start speaking with or writing to the County Commissioners and county manager about that pound and how they want to see an end to the killing. There is a lot of information available about the programs that can be implemented to end shelter killing at the No Kill Advocacy Center if you’d like to give them more info: http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/shelter-reform/no-kill-equation/

      Budget concerns are often the first thing commissioners and county managers speak about when shelter reform is on the table, so the “Dollars and Sense” PDF about how No Kill animal control can be economically feasible might be a good place to start: http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/econbenefits.pdf

      Also, I just sent a public records request for the pound’s statistics for 2011 and records for 2012. We will be able to see for ourselves if they have made any progress.

      • lynn bowman

        Couldn’t help but notice what appeared to be nice new animal control trucks. I don’t get it!

      • Hmm … you’re right!

      • Susan McFarland

        To provide some background and context to Beaufort County animal shelter-related problems, Beaufort is one of the poorest of NC’s counties, the literacy rate is low, unemployment is high, and hunger among humans actually is a growing problem. (Some people are still homeless, having never recovered from the damage left by Hurricane Irene.)

        Regarding pet overpopulation, one of the main problems is that many people either don’t believe in spaying or neutering their animals or they don’t have the funds to do so.

        Animals generally are seen as commodities, not sentient beings. Dogs often are chained outdoors as “yard dogs,” such animals receive little attention or veterinary care. The practice of hunting deer with dogs leads to continued unchecked breeding of hounds and other such dogs. Dogs that fail to hunt well or are seen as too old to hunt are abandoned in the woods or along highways. Breeding females often are dumped after the pups are weaned.

        The local humane society tries to address the overpopulation issue through several initiatives.

        The humane society offers reduced cost spay and neuter services through local veterinarians in February. The effort receives some attention in our local newspaper, but not enough people take advantage of the program, which is still somewhat costly for the poor.

        A humane society volunteer photographs one cat and one dog from the shelter for a weekly column in the newspaper to promote adoption.

        In October, the humane society funded a low-cost adoption program at the shelter. It allowed people to adopt an animal for $40, which included the cost of spaying or neutering and vaccinations. Adopting an animal was a bargain. Unfortunately, the program received little publicity, and the details were buried in the boiler plate of the weekly column.

        As long as the economy in the county languishes, it will be difficult to find adoptive homes for animals. A local rescue group has all but given up trying to find homes here. It sends almost all of its rescued dogs out of state.

        We have a fairly new shelter, thanks largely to a bequest from a woman who was concerned about the plight of unwanted animals here. The county matched the funds she left for the new facility. It has been improved since then with contributions from caring individuals. The gas chamber is in a separate building. A local veterinarian, who is a member of the humane society, oversees shelter policy.

        An elderly friend who volunteered at the shelter for many years said that only recently did she realize that the shelter uses a gas chamber. (She admits that she really did not want to know how the animals are killed.) However, she is horrified that so many of them are destroyed this way. She believes the number killed annually is now closer to 6,000, which, if accurate, is a huge jump from the 2,700 I quoted from about 2007.

        I suspect that a few folks in the county might support changing the way the shelter does business if they were aware of the number of animals being killed or how they are being killed. If the number is as high as 6,000, it would be a revelation to everyone in the county. I also suspect that few county residents realize that dying in a gas chamber is a horrific death.

        If we are to move toward the creation of a no-kill shelter in Beaufort County, we will have the huge challenge of educating people about a myriad of humane-related issues. We have to change the behavior of people toward their pets, but I’m afraid it will have to start with kindergarteners.

        Ideally, it would be a great idea to start the effort toward improving the situation at the shelter with the county manager and commissioners. However, we have commissioners who are solely interested in keeping the tax rate low and not disturbing the status quo. These people would not be interested in hearing that a lower cost alternative exists to the way the animal shelter does business. They would brow beat anyone who brings up the topic.

        I think a massive publicity and educational campaign on the benefits of shelter reform would have to precede talking with the commissioners. If anything is to change, the humane society will have to support reform.
        I will look at the no-kill advocacy web site and see what I might be able to bring to the humane society. Thank you.

  2. Hi Susan, thanks for the comment. You raise a lot of points worth discussing! I want to focus right now on one in particular: If one looks at results across the state, the poverty or wealth of a county does not at all correlate with shelter kill rates! I know that seems surprising, so to illustrate it I made a spreadsheet showing the ranking of NC counties in terms of median household income, shelter kill rates and shelter funding (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Agys64uaCL1gdHUwQ0FnWndYYWZtUWJfWGtlMmhkckE#gid=0), and it shows that there is absolutely no correlation between a shelter’s outcome rates, the wealth of the county or the amount spent on animal control sheltering.

    That chart did not include Beaufort County Animal Shelter because they did not report their 2011 stats to the NCDA&CS. BUT–I just received those numbers today after sending a public records request to Todd Taylor. In 2011 the Beaufort County pound killed 67.64% of the animals that came in. (2012 ytd percentage is 71.78%, so they are doing worse so far this year than last year). I decided to pick a couple of counties that are poorer than Beaufort to do another comparison (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Agys64uaCL1gdDM3bjFPMHV2YzRTN252NExuMjlqQ1E#gid=0) Bladen and Scotland Counties are both significantly poorer than Beaufort in terms of per capita income, median household income and persons below the poverty level, yet county pound kill rates are way lower! This is because the people running their pounds are doing things to save lives that Todd Taylor is not! (Also, both counties have successful programs that participate in the states Spay/neuter reimbursement program: http://ncagr.gov/vet/aws/Fix/index.htm) To be fair, there are lots of wealthier counties with far worse outcomes than Beaufort County, too.

    You bring up a lot of other points that deserve more discussion than I can swing right now, but I hope to be posting more about Beaufort County (since I just got their stats!), so I hope we can keep the conversation going.

    In the meantime, I like this No Kill Tallahassee post “The Top Five Myths about No Kill” because it addresses some of the issues you raised (namely, that No Kill is possible even if some locals don’t spay/neuter or have less-than-enlightened attitudes about animals: http://www.no-killtallahassee.com/?p=3754)

    • Susan McFarland

      Hi, Lisa, I apologize for the long treatise. It appears that the outcome in any given county depends more on publicity, public will, and the commitment of volunteers.

      What you provided is a revelation to me. I was especially stunned to read that the state has a spay/neuter program.for local governments. I suspect that Beaufort Country does not participate or fully participate in it. The folks employed at the shelter, I understand, are just doing their jobs. Therefore, we will need a maximum effort from people committed to making a change.

      Thank you for the evidence that a better way does not mean spending more money. I have concluded that I probably will have to join our humane society and try to change things from within. Despite the humane society’s efforts, I think it is part of the problem. I wonder if enacting the state’s spay/neuter program in Beaufort County would hurt the business of some local veterinarians who run the humane society?

      I will be looking for your postings on Beaufort County. Do we know the number of animals killed in 2011 at the shelter?

      • Oh, don’t apologize for the long treatise! it’s all important stuff to think and talk about!

        I can’t say whether the S/N participation would do anything to local vets’ business. There may be the perception that it will, however, and that would make them resistant to implementing it. I think that calling the NCDA&CS Animal Welfare staff and asking how other counties have implemented the program might help you. They occasionally hold seminars on how to get started, so you can also ask when the next one will be. There are people in granville County currently trying to get it up an running there, and I would be happy to put you in touch with them so they can share their experiences.

        Yes, we do know the number killed in 2011, and it was nowhere near 6,000! In 2011, 1,369 of 2,024 animals were killed. So far in 2012, 1,694 of 2,360 have been killed. here are the stats: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Agys64uaCL1gdGlBWm13Yk05ZXBUZTU1a1JVTzgyaFE#gid=0

  3. Pingback: Help Montgomery County build an adoption center « Sunset Daily

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