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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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SPCA seeks no-kill status for county

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Martinsville-Henry County SPCA is launching a campaign to make Henry County a “No Kill” community by 2015.

No-kill communities have euthanasia rates of 10 percent or less of animals brought into all shelters in those communities, according to Leslie Hervey, executive director of the SPCA.

The designation is made by a national no-kill organization, and “is sort of a mark of pride, I guess,” Hervey said.

The current rate in Henry County is 18 percent, Hervey said. The SPCA and the city of Martinsville already are considered no-kill areas, she added.

That does not mean animals picked up in the city are not euthanized. Dogs and cats picked up by animal control officers in Martinsville and deemed unadoptable are taken to the county and euthanized, Hervey said of an arrangement she requested. Animals that are considered adoptable are taken to the SPCA, if space allows.

“I asked the city to not have the animal control officer euthanize” animals picked up by animal control officers, because “why would you pick up an animal that is being treated poorly and just take it back and euthanize them? We want animal control officers to be able to do their job” and see that animals taken to the pound end up in better situations, she said.

The SPCA is considered a no-kill shelter because animals taken in there remain until they are adopted, Hervey added.

Last year, the SPCA took in a total of 2,497 dogs and cats, including 540 animals from Henry County Animal Control; 182 from Martinsville Animal Control; 249 strays or owner-surrendered animals in Martinsville and 716 stray or owner-surrendered in Henry County, and puppies from the 13-county region.

The area’s rate of animals adopted, transferred to other rescue organizations or returned to owners is 82 percent, which Hervey said “is wonderful.” She added that the rate is calculated by totaling the number of animals released and dividing that number by the number of animals released plus the number euthanized.

There were 672 animals — 307 dogs and 365 cats — euthanized last year in Henry County, she said.

The dogs euthanized included 152 pit or pit mixed dogs, 52 aggressive dogs, 10 older dogs and 19 sick dogs, Hervey said. Also, 74 dogs were euthanized due to a lack of space at the county or city pounds, she said.

Cats that were euthanized were all “deemed to be feral (lacking human contact) or delivered to the county pound by the public” who gave “I don’t want this” cat as the reason when surrendering the feline, Hervey said.

While the SPCA is intent on lowering the number of animals authanized, Hervey said the animals currently euthanized are the most difficult to place. They include pit bulls, “cats with an attitude” and older animals. In short, “the ones that will really take the community to help us with,” she said.

The SPCA “would like to cut that (euthanasia) rate in half by 2015,” Hervey said, and a number of strategies are in place to help create awareness and start dialogues in communities.

For instance, yard signs with the slogan “NKMHC 2015” (No Kill Martinsville Henry County) are being given out at the SPCA, she said. Car magnets with the same slogan have been ordered and are expected soon.

“We also need the public to do what that have always done,” Hervey said of spaying/neutering animals, adopting from the local animal pounds and the SPCA, and “holding onto stray animals until we have room” to take them in and find them a home.

She is urging residents to spay or neuter neighborhood cats that are feral or community cats that everyone in a area helps feed and care for.

“The SPCA will fix (spay or neuter) anything in a trap for free,” she said. And, “if it is a community cat, we will fix it” and vaccinate it for rabies, and “it can stay a community cat,” she said. “But just bringing them to the SPCA or pound should be a last resort.”

To get yard signs, learn more about the campaign or adopt an animal, visit the SPCA on Joseph Martin Highway in Martinsville.


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