By RORYE O’CONNOR
MT. VERNON — —
Jefferson County Animal Control took in about 1,700 cats and dogs in 2012.
Animal warden Martin Boykin said that included 1,020 dogs and 670 cats. Those animals were either claimed by their owners, adopted by new owners, transported to rescues or shelters, or euthanized, he said.
Nearly 200 animals were adopted to new homes in 2012, with 85 cats finding new families and 110 dogs being adopted. About the same number of animals were claimed by their owners.
Boykin said cats and dogs can be picked up by animal control for different reasons.
“If they were running loose or if there was an emergency like a fire or their owner got arrested, we can pick them up,” he said. “There are several different ways animals come here.”
Boykin said many of the animals picked up by animal control are the pets of repeat offenders, who habitually let their dogs roam unleashed.
Animal control employee Rick Mays said dogs must be contained on their owner’s property, whether they are on a leash, a chain or in a pen. Animals in heat must be kept in a pen.
He said the animal shelter works with many no-kill rescue organizations throughout the state, as well as posting available pets online to websites like Petfinder and Adopt A Pet, as well as Illinois Animal Rescue.
“These organizations check all the sites, and when they see something they are interested in, they contact us,” he said.
Between 650 and 700 animals were euthanized at the shelter in 2012, Boykin said.
“Most places have a set period of time that they hold animals (before euthanizing them),” he said. “We hold them until we run out of space, or if they are extremely old, injured or unadoptable due to being aggressive.”
Boykin said space issues often force the shelter’s hand, especially in the busier summer months.
He said the state requires all animal control facilities and shelters to hold animals for a period of seven days, but he considers euthanasia a last resort.
“Some of the dogs here we have had dang near a year or longer, if we knew they were extra special,” he said.
There are a variety of ways the public can help the shelter and the animals housed there, Boykin said.
“A lot of people sponsor animals,” he said. “What that does, is holds the animal to make sure it stays here until it’s adopted.”
He said many people who have already reached the city’s three-animal limit will see an animal they wish they could adopt at the shelter, and instead will pay the animal’s adoption fees to keep it safe from being euthanized.
“We really appreciate all the help we’ve been getting,” Mays said. “We get help from a lot of different areas.”
The Jefferson County Animal Control does not offer fostering or volunteering at the shelter due to liability issues, but Boykin said the shelter always needs donations of food, shots, or old clothing that is used for bedding for the dogs.
He said due to funding cuts to the shelter from the county, things are tight, but concerned citizens and local businesses have stepped up to help, including one local groomer that provides a free appointment to those who adopt a pet from the shelter.
“The cuts they made down here hasn’t been as bad as the other departments,” he said. “They cut some hours, but picking up animals hasn’t been affected by that.”
He added, however, that the cuts to hours mean processing paperwork will take longer at the shelter.
Boykin said any pet owner or potential pet owner with questions may call Jefferson County Animal Control at 244-8024.
To see the animals available at Jefferson County Animal Control, visit the website at http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/IL331.html.