Group helps save local dogs

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thanks to media publicity and the efforts of a local group of animal lovers, dogs have been adopted from the Lewisburg Animal Shelter in record numbers, and no "adoptable" dogs were euthanized this week or last.

Lewisburg Animal Shelter Adoptions (LASA) was recently "created by local Lewisburg animal lovers wishing to network our community's homeless dogs," according to their Facebook page.

Eleven dogs were scheduled for euthanasia on Thursday, March 4, but, due to LASA's efforts, they got a "stay of execution" and many have since been adopted. There are now less than 10 dogs at the shelter that has a capacity of about 25.

As of Thursday morning, LASA announced their total adoptions were up to 21, and they have over 200 "friends" on Facebook.

City Manager Eddie Fuller met with representatives of LASA for an hour Wednesday afternoon, and agreed to get legal advice on the liability concerns relating to allowing group members access to dogs in the shelter.

By Thursday morning a schedule had been set up for LASA members to visit the shelter on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, when both employees are available to take dogs out of their cages to be photographed for the Facebook page.

Later on, if it is cleared by the city attorney, group members may be able to do assessments of individual dogs in order to get an idea of what kind of home would suit them.

Several misconceptions were cleared up at the Wednesday meeting between Fuller, councilman Ronald McRady, and six LASA members.

Fuller explained that it is a state law that the shelter must charge for an adoption. The fee is currently $71, and covers the cost of spaying/neutering and the necessary vaccinations.

"We're a pound, not a shelter," said Fuller. "We can make it bigger and keep dogs longer, but the more that get adopted, the more we can keep."

"Our main goal - and I know it's unrealistic - is to eliminate euthanasia," said group member Ken Todd. "We'd like to have a no-kill shelter."

The technicalities of releasing dogs to other shelters or breed-specific rescue groups were discussed, along with the necessity of educating the public to spay and neuter their pets so that unwanted puppies are not brought into the world. Plenty of dog food is donated to the shelter, but LASA sees a need for more feeding bowls, leashes, etc.

Contrary to popular belief, according to statistics presented by Fuller, the number of dogs euthanized each year has not increased with the worsening economic situation in Marshall County. Every effort is made to reunite dogs with their owners if they can be identified, and, even before LASA came on the scene, dogs were being adopted from the Shelter, though not in the numbers that now seem to be possible with the group pushing hard.

"We have to keep pushing until everyone on Greg's list has a dog," Todd said jokingly, referring to the extensive e-mail list maintained by Greg Lowe, the Lewisburg codes officer.