Joe P. Asher
The Harlan Animal Shelter recently found itself in the unwanted position of having to euthanize nearly 80 cats.
Liaison and Coordinator Jennifer Williams explained the facility simply exhausted its space and ability to care for the large number of animals.
“The shelter hadn’t euthanized cats for anything other than medical reasons for over six months,” said Williams. “We had a situation where we got 30 cats in one day. It was an overcrowding problem. They had over 122 cats in the shelter. We have a minimal budget and housing.”
Williams said they had attempted to house the animals in every way they could find trying to give them time to be adopted, but it just didn’t happen. The shelter can house between 40 and 60 healthy cats at any time, but greater numbers can lead to problems.
“We were stealing cages from the puppy room to house them in. At one point I said ‘I think I can get my hands on some rabbit cages.’ We were trying really hard,” Williams said.
While it may seem giving animals away may be a solution, there are problems with that course of action.
“Two or three years ago when they did give the animals away, it was just a repeating process. Now it’s mandatory that anything that leaves the shelter is spayed or neutered before the animal leaves the shelter. We would have people come and get a free cat, and then they would bring us the kittens. It was really counterproductive,” said Williams.
Williams said cats do have a tendency to overpopulate.
“The cat population is a problem everywhere if you do your research. We’ve gotten some really good feedback from no kill shelters where they still have to euthanize cats at an alarming rate in bigger cities. It’s just everywhere. Rescue is really hard. Out of approximately 4,000 animals that came into the shelter last year, only thirty of those were adopted,” said Williams.
“The best thing we can tell people is we have a low cost spay and neuter grant here,” said Williams. “Woodstock and the Humane Society host a spay and neuter event just about every month. Spay and neuter your animals. Cats can have up to three healthy litters of six kittens a year.”
“Once we’re full — we’re full,” said Williams. “Because we are a county shelter, we can’t turn anybody away. We have to take them in.”
Harlan County Animal Control Officer Duncan Caldwell could not be reached for comment.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-5410 or email@example.com