Building breeds disease, forces euthanasia

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 7, 2009

NATCHEZ — In May alone, 192 animals were euthanized at the Natchez-Adams Humane Society shelter.

With between 250 and 300 animals packed into a dilapidated, dark and molding building at any given time, the situation has become downright depressing.

“It’s hard, dirty work, plus it’s very emotional,” Humane Society Director Pat Cox said. “It’s not been very pleasant to say the least.”

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Many animals that are brought in are sick and for the last several months, humane shelter officials have been fighting back an overwhelming tide of parvovirus.

“We’ve had a lot of trouble getting it under control. When you have such a massive amount of animals in such a crowded area, it’s very difficult,” Cox said.

Last month, of the 198 animals that came into the shelter, 31 died due to parvovirus, the majority of which were infant cats and dogs.

“We have had a tremendous loss this year as a result of parvo,” Humane society board vice president Nan Garrison said. “Who it gets is the baby, it attacks their immune systems and they are gone in 24 hours.”

Those animals that are not effected by parvovirus are up for adoption, but adoption rates aren’t high.

Nearly 200 animals were brought to the shelter in May. Four animals were reclaimed by an owner, and 27 were adopted.

Garrison said she wishes euthanasia weren’t an option, but with so many animals coming in, shelter workers don’t have much of a choice.

Between 60 and 70 percent of the animals that are brought in are euthanized.

From October 2008 through May 2009, 1,123 animals were euthanized at the humane society.

“It’s extremely depressing for those of us who are involved, and it’s so hurtful to us to euthanize,” Garrison said. “Please give us another option.”

A new building may not decrease the amount of animals dropped off at the shelter, but it would expand resources and help out in not so obvious ways.

Cox said it’s difficult to keep employees because the work environment is so depressing.

Since February, nine employees were hired but that number has been whittled down to only two employees, she said.

With such a high turnover rate, the one full-time employee the shelter has ends up pulling most of the weight and clocking large amounts of overtime.

Cox said she is ready more than ever for a new building, however she is steadfast in, if not weary of, making do.

“We don’t have a choice,” she said. “We do the best we can. It’s all we can do.”