Animal Euthanizations Down in Columbus - WRBL

Animal Euthanizations Down in Columbus

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COLUMBUS, GA - Columbus Animal Control released numbers for 2013. There was a decrease in the number of euthanizations over the past year.

The euthanization rate has dropped nearly 40% over the past three years. It came after Mayor Tomlinson started the Save-A-Pet program in 2011. However, the number of dogs and cats caught in 2013 is down from the year before.

"We've gone from 79% to 64% to 52%  to 38 or less percent," said Public Works Director Pat Biegler. "I would say given the staffing we have, its incredible. It's really awesome what those folks have been able to accomplish with a lot of heart and a lot of hard work."

Animal control has just eight officers on duty during the day, but only one on call during the night time. Making their ability to respond to calls limited.

"In the evenings we have one officer for the entire city," said Biegler. "So even if he is sitting at the animal control shelter ready to go and he receives a call, It will take him 30 to 40 to 50 minutes to get there, depending on traffic. Quite honestly in some cases that's unacceptable. If he's tied up somewhere else, it could take him an hour or two to wrap up one call before he can respond to the other."

Even though the special enforcement department received $1.4 million this year, only part of that goes to Animal Control. Add in vehicle expenses, supplies, and a decreasing budget, officials say there isn't enough money to do the job the way they want.

"We don't have anyone on nights anymore," said Biegler. "That was a budget cut from last year. That's a very limited personnel out there during the day time. We are dealing with not only dogs and cats, but with wild animals too. We've got our plate full. There's no doubt of that."

Part of the concern is the risk of citizens that get bit by pets and animals roaming the streets. In 2013, there were 287 reported dog bites. Officials stress that the number may be lower because people may not be calling in.

"If there's a bite or an incident, even if it's in your home, it needs to be reported so that we can keep good statistics and keep an eye on any potential problems out there," said Biegler.

In the case of the feral dogs near Allen Elementary, officials at Animal Control said they tried using an increased dose of sedative this weekend and this morning, but they were unsuccessful. With three dogs still on the loose, they say they will increase their efforts to catch them.

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