ALBANY – At the Albany Humane Society each day, the flow of animals coming in never stops, whether it’s a cat dropped off by an owner who can no longer keep it or a dog brought in after it bit a person.
With no choice but to accept sick and even vicious animals, the shelter sometimes is stretched to capacity — both in space and finances, said Lulu Kaufman, vice president of the shelter’s board.
“We can’t turn them away — from the animal control office, neglect cases, dogs in the street, dogs that have been fought or abused — we have to take them in,” Kaufman said. “We’re inundated all day, every day. We intake, photograph, run a heartworm test, give them de-wormer, give them vaccines.”
And while the flow coming in is never-ceasing, the organization is trying to make the outcome better.
Through Aug. 13, 393 dogs and cats have been euthanized. That compares to 1,059 through the first eight months of 2018.
“We euthanized one-third (the number) of the animals, because we’re transporting them out,” Kaufman said.
Kaufman said the Albany shelter combined with five others in southwest Georgia to get the numbers necessary for a New York-based no-kill organization to accept animals. She and other volunteers also regularly drive animals to shelters in Atlanta and other cities.
“We’re working diligently to transport animals out,” Kaufman said.
The Humane Society also has toughened its screening process, so fewer dogs and cats have been adopted out this year than in previous years. This is to make sure that a dog will not be returned due to neglect or be used in illegal dog fighting.
“We’re not in the business of taking a dog out of a dangerous situation and putting them in another dangerous situation,” she said.
There are several ways the public can help, but the main one is by spaying or neutering their pets.
The Humane Society is working to help establish a low-cost spay and neuter clinic for the city, but that will take some time, Kaufman said.
It also needs monetary support. The city and county provide a combined $300,000 a year, which covers the salaries of the 14 employees. But that leaves no money for everything else, from food to utilities to medications.
A large number of animals brought to the shelter are pit bulldogs or a mix of that breed. Walking through the section where those dogs are kept, many show visible scars from where they had been used either as fighting dogs or to train dogs for fighting.
Many of them appear sweet, and many are potential companion dogs, but it is hard to get no-kill shelters to take them.
In most cases involving owners dropping off dogs, it’s because they find out their pet has heartworms.
Still, the Humane Society tries to adopt or transport every dog possible, Kaufman said.
Prior to this year, the shelter had the second-worst record for killing animals brought in at 48%, she said, but now that number is down to 15%.
“Eight-five percent is about the best you can do,” she said. “There are going to be those cases that come in that are vicious and are sick.”