Saving strays: Fewer animals euthanized this year than last

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More animals went to good homes this year than were euthanized -- and that, Animal Control officer Kathie Johnson said, indicates success.

Through November, 444 dogs were picked up. Forty were put down.

Most of those were unadoptable either because of sickness or temperament, Johnson said. More than 140 dogs were adopted through the Craig Animal Shelter this year.

A lot of the credit for that success, Johnson said, goes to the Craig Intermediate School Lifesavers. Lifesavers is a group of students led by teacher Mary Blakeman who make sure adoptable pets are seen. They run pictures in the newspaper and on television and read their descriptions on the radio.

"The pictures make a huge difference," Johnson said.

Another factor in reducing the number of animals euthanized is a Moffat County Humane Society push to give animals a second chance.

Human Society volunteers take animals that are adoptable, but have reached their time limit at the Craig Animal Shelter, to a Summit County animal shelter.

All of the more than 80 animals that have been transported to Summit County have been adopted.

Animals generally have between 10 and 12 days to be adopted before other options are considered.

Through the Lifesavers and Humane Society, the number of animals euthanized has decreased by about half.

By this time last year, 230 animals were euthanized compared to 132 this year.

"(The Moffat County Humane Society) has been awesome about getting animals transferred," Johnson said. "We've had really awesome luck with other shelters taking our animals and adopting them out."

The same level of success isn't reported for cats. Of the 132 animals euthanized this year, 93 were cats.

Johnson said she picks up more dogs than cats, but many dogs are either claimed by their owners or adopted out.

That's not the case with cats. Few owners claim missing cats and many that are picked up are wild -- making them unadoptable.

"We can't adopt them out and we can't let them loose. They'll just make more," Johnson said. "That makes this a hard job."

Animals adopted through the Craig Animal Shelter aren't spayed or neutered, but the Craig Police Department has a fund that provides a gift certificate for $25 off neutering and $50 off spaying. But Johnston said that fund was nearly drained by October.

The Moffat County Humane Society offers free or reduced-cost spay or neutering to low-income residents.

Whatever the cost, residents who adopt pets may not have a choice. Johnson is drafting an ordinance that will require all pets adopted to be spayed or neutered by their new owners within a certain amount of time.

"We have to make it a requirement because we have so many animals here," Johnson said.

The Craig City Council would have to approve the ordinance.

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