Leaders of the local Humane Society are asking county commissioners to pass a resolution that will streamline operations of the area's animal shelter and help lower euthanasia rates in Cabarrus County.
The county budgets $650,000 a year for Cabarrus County Animal Control and $115,000 per year to operate the animal shelter off N.C. 49 near Harrisburg. The proposed reorganization will relieve the sheriff's office of operational duties of the shelter. County animal control officers will continue to provide enforcement functions and the pick up of strays, but the Humane Society of Concord and Greater Cabarrus County will handle shelter operations.
The operational change of the county animal shelter is the most efficient use of resources and most logical, said commissioner Bob Carruth, who also is the head of the area's Animal Preservation and Protection Advisory Committee.
"We currently have a very disjointed rescue effort for dogs and cats in the community," said Carruth. "Although most of the rescue organizations in the community are doing a fine job independent of one another, this new effort will unite them all for the purpose of reducing the number and percentage of dogs and cats that are euthanized at the county's animal shelter."
Carruth said the matter could be voted on as early as April 18.
"The passing of this resolution will solidify the relationship that the humane society and the sheriff's department have been working towards for the past year," said Judy Sims, CEO of the HSOC. "It will allow us to more quickly assess the animals as they come in and prepare them more quickly for adoption once their holding period has passed."
Carruth described the current effort as "splintered" and said the new organizational structure would help the area's four shelters network more efficiently, streamline and improve the adoption process and lower the county's euthanasia rate.
"We could divert that ($115,000) for the animal shelter to the Humane Society and they would take over the sheltering side of animal control," said Carruth. "By doing that, they'll be able to apply for more grants to help expand adoption and animal control programs. We're just improving on something and providing better organization."
Carruth estimated about 100 to 150 pets were euthanized monthly over the last six months. Sims said with the help of foster homes, rescue organizations and adoptions, the number of animals that get euthanized could shrink only to those that cannot be adopted.
"We have been working very closely with animal control this past year to reduce euthanasia rates, boost adoptions and educate the public on the importance of spaying and neutering with great success," said Sims. "At the beginning of the year, county euthanasia rates were up more than 70 percent. We have seen a significant decrease in euthanasia the past few months and the January percentage was 24 percent, which is huge and a direct result of the partnership that has been built between HSOC, other local rescue groups and the Cabarrus Spay/Neuter Clinic."
The switch also could free up funds from the HSOC so it could possibly hire a full-time director.
"That's the missing piece," said Carruth. "We do not have one sole person to handle and manage an overall program for the community. This new effort will involve no new money; it will be the same money, just a more efficient use of it.
"The success of this new program will depend heavily on citizens coming forward to volunteer to be a foster home for dogs and cats awaiting adoption. Also, many volunteers will be needed - not just folks to clean cages and walk dogs, but those that have marketing, operations and finance skills."