Jackson County

Animal shelter’s efforts are saving lives

This dog is among a dozen strays at the shelter that will remain on hold for five days before they are available for adoption.
This dog is among a dozen strays at the shelter that will remain on hold for five days before they are available for adoption.

Deaths are down and adoptions are up at the Jackson County Animal Shelter this year, even though people are dropping off more animals than ever.

The shelter has taken in 500 more animals than 2015 and there are still 1 1/2 months left in the fiscal year.

By the end of September, the total taken in likely will be 5,000, the director estimates.

But the shelter has euthanized significantly fewer animals. The current rate is 37 percent, which is in line with the national average.

The credit goes to an energetic staff holding adoption events; an active rescue group pulling more than 400 animals this year; a fostering program; a curious community; and the chance to send animals to other states for adoption.

Director Joe Barlow, his staff and the Friends of Jackson County Shelter Pets have been busy. And it’s paying off.

Barlow said he doesn’t usually pay attention to social media, but there was a thread on Facebook recently “where people were quoting bad numbers on us.” And he felt he needed to correct it.

He pulled the figures on “what the reality is and how we’re making an impact on euthanasia.”

The problem is, when word gets out and the media does a good story about the shelter, people see that as an opportunity to dump their pets.

“Right now the story is intake,” Barlow said.

Animals are continuing to pour in, in spite of the lower euthanasia numbers and more adoptions.

“We’ve taken in 90 this week,” Barlow said. “We’re stressed, full, about to explode. Every time we think we’re making headway, we have (something like) a woman who surrenders 11 dogs in one batch.”

The truth of the matter is the shelter is running at capacity. This is the way Barlow explains it:

“The boat is taking on water at a higher rate. We’re just doing a better job of bailing.”

And shelter officials are heading into the peak months for feral cats.

Barlow said residents still need educating and the county staff just doesn’t have the time.

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