50ºF

Shelter operators say high euthanasia rates caused by more than overcrowding

PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Euthanasia rates at the Pittsylvania Animal Control and Danville Humane Society caused some to question animal control in the counties.

Chief Animal Control Officer Pete Boswell said overcrowding is not the only reason animals are euthanized. Poor health or violent behaviors may be reasons for euthanasia. He added ferral animals in rural areas can account for many cases of euthanasia.

Tonja Reynolds with the Pittsylvania County SPCA said, in comparison to neighboring counties, euthanasia statistics in the county are alarming. From 2004 to 2014, the Virginia Department or Agriculture and Consumer Services reports Pittsylvania County Animal Control euthanized over 13,000 dogs and cats.

"What's happening is not illegal, but it's immoral," Reynolds explained.

However, the SPCA said the number should be a lot higher.

Pittsylvania County Animal Control mainly houses dogs. It contracts with Danville Humane Society to pick up cats due to space limitations - and the Danville Humane Society euthanized nearly 34,000 cats in the last ten years.

"If people say the euthanasia rate is so bad. Stop the killing. We would love to, but then what would we do with the cats," executive director of the Danville Humane Society Paulette Dean said.

Other counties use a trap, neuter, release (TNR) method, which can help control feral cat population growth. But Dean said returning feral animals to the wild - where they may be abused, starve or become injured - is cruel.

A new facility to replace the Pittsylvania County Animal Shelter is in the works. Shelter representatives said they hope the new space will help them euthanize less animals.