- Last Updated on Friday, 01 April 2011 17:02
- Published on Friday, 01 April 2011 17:02
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BOS to consider use of vacated county Animal Shelter
In 2009 more than 240K companion animals passed through county shelters throughout the commonwealth. And nearly 95,000 or 40 percent never made it out alive.
But as our local area deals with the impact of pet overpopulation, St. Seton’s Orphaned Animals, in conjunction with the Rappahannock Area Agency on Aging (RAAA), is offering a solution.
According to founder Jeanette Allard, St. Seton’s is teaming up with the RAAA to bring a low cost spay/neuter clinic to King George.
A steering committee including rescues and others interested in animal welfare are joining in the effort of the Humane Virginia Project.
“Jim Schaeffer of RAAA has been great,” Allard said. “Our goal is to provide humanity towards people and animals”
James Monroe District Supervisor John LoBuglio, who also sits on the board of the RAAA, is in support of the efforts.
He said the proposal would be presented to the Board of Supervisors at the April 5 meeting.
“The board will be asked to make a commitment to designate the vacated animal shelter building for use as a low-cost veterinary clinic,” LoBuglio said.
The supervisor said it is important for the board to make the designation prior to conducting a study to convert the landfill to a recreational site.
According to LoBuglio making the designation now will accomplish two fiscally responsible goals.
It will allow the St. Seton’s/ RAAA team to use grant funds for renovations to the building before they expire. It will allow the current study to incorporate the clinic into the overall site plan for the landfill vice having to conduct an additional study after the fact.
“We have even had a suggestion that we designate part of the recreation facilities as a dog park,” LoBuglio said. “That idea could be incorporated into the planning process for the study.”
Though King George has one of the lowest euthanasia rates in the state, Animal Control Officer Kevin Eller indicated those results are due to the dedication of his staff and the efforts of the King George Animal Rescue League.
But he feels the clinic is needed and would be an asset to the area.
“In these tough economic times, many people can barely afford to care for their pet dog or cat,” Eller said. “And when they can’t afford the cost of the spay or neuter surgery, they end up with a litter that they can’t handle at all. And the animals end up at the shelter.”
Assistant Animal Control Officer Marcella Mihalec said, “The proposal needs a final blessing from the Sheriff and the Board of Supervisors.”
Daniel A. Kovich, DVM, MPH, Staff Veterinarian for Animal Care and Health Policy with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Richmond has the task of overseeing the annual statistics on animal shelters in the state.
During a telephone interview to discuss euthanasia statistics and the proposed clinic, Kovich said, “We are always in support of any efforts that help people take care of their pets.”
And the clinic will reach even further than just pet population control.
Allard and St. Seton’s partnered with the RAAA several years ago to bring Pet Food on Wheels to the area’s Meals on Wheels program. And she always makes the first trip to the home to deliver the pet food to an elderly client.
“It broke my heart when one woman told me she would go without eating to feed her pet,” Allard said.
Unfortunately, that is not an isolated incident. Anecdotal evidence from other organizations and agencies providing social services supports similar encounters.
Many of the elderly in the area do not have the financial means to care for their pet if it becomes ill or is injured.
“Many times we encounter an older person that may have an injured kitty, but does not have the funds to take the pet to a veterinarian,” Allard said.
Allard indicated that the steering committee is also developing plans to incorporate a low-cost medical care program based on financial need.
The group is also looking into developing a Pen Pals Program where inmates at area jails would help train shelter dogs in basic obedience to make them more adoptable.
St. Seton’s holistic approach in reaching out to humanity has many other efforts on the drawing board to include caring for animals for individuals that may be living in abusive relationships. Most domestic violence shelters do not allow animals.
For now the steering committee’s main focus is on convincing the supervisors to commit to designating the old animal shelter as a low cost spay/neuter clinic.
Marty van Duyne is a member of the Dog Writers Association of America.