The county has accepted more than $16,000 in grant funds that will assist in effectively dismantling and destroying the gas chamber as a form of euthanasia at the Sampson County Animal Shelter, while also reducing the number of animals put to death due to health reasons.
Three grants were received and formally accepted by the Sampson County Board of Commissioners this week, along with nearly $5,000 in donations from a recent holiday fundraiser locally.
One of the grants received is from the Humane Society of the United States, which offered $7,000 to phase out the use of the gas chamber. The two other grants are from the Petfinder Foundation, including a $6,300 award to fund a kennel cough vaccine program and a $3,000 grant to fund a FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia) vaccination program. The goal of both programs is to reduce the number of animals euthanized for health reasons.
“This is the first time we’ve gotten these grants,” said county manager Ed Causey.
Causey requested the board accept all the grants, first mentioning the $7,000 award to get rid of the gas chamber.
“Last year when we had our planning session, we pointed out that according to the state inspector we were one of the few counties in her area left that was still using the gas chamber,” said Causey. “We increased the personnel by one part-time position in order to help us get to the point of getting rid of the gas chamber. Quite frankly, it would have been my expectation, had we not had a change in directors at that point in time, we would have already accomplished this.”
Alan Canady started this week as the county’s new shelter director, taking the reins from interim director Lori Baxter.
“Once the former director resigned and we had an interim director, we were a little bit reluctant to move forward with this too aggressively until we had a permanent director in hand,” said Causey.
HSUS director Kimberley Alboum set out the grant conditions for the $7,000 award, stating that it was to be used to phase out the gas chamber and also for “shelter repairs and upgrades as you see fit.” She said the awarding of the grant was made on two conditions.
“The Sampson County Animal Shelter agrees to phase out the use of the gas chamber in six months from receipt of the $7,000. If there are issues with licensing that will take longer than six months, please notify me (of) progress and expected date,” Alboum stated, before laying out the second condition. “The Sampson County Animal Shelter uses the remainder of the money for shelter repair, shelter upgrades and/or enrichment of the animals.”
County officials said, from solely a cost-standpoint, the cost of the drugs to be administered would be offset by the savings in not purchasing the gas and maintaining the chamber. The move also allows the county to move toward a more humane form of euthanasia for the animals. being used in most other counties.
“I don’t think the law has mandated, but I think it’s coming,” said Causey. “The state has done a lot of encouraging to get shelters to transition on their own without a mandate. I think one of the reasons (the state inspector) has been so cooperative with us is she’s seen that effort on our part to get out of (operating the chamber). We felt this was something that would put us in a more favorable light with the state and all the people who are interested in the humane treatment of the animals.”
Petfinder Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to ending euthanasia for adoptable pets, also laid out stipulations for the acceptance and use of the $9,300 in grants awarded to Sampson.
Lisa Robinson, executive director of Petfinder Foundation, noted that each of two grants were from the group’s Care and Feeding Fund, which is made possible in partnership with the Animal Rescue Site’s click-to-give program, GreaterGood.org and individual donations.
She noted the importance of assisting shelter facilities and similar operations with both kennel cough and FVRCP vaccines.
“Our belief is that by reducing the outbreak of Bordetella brochispectia (kennel cough) in animal shelters, we can reduce the number of homeless dogs euthanized for health reasons,” Robinson stated in a letter. “We know that kennel cough is a treatable illness and protecting the dogs at intake can decrease the chance of it spreading through your facility.”
Robinson said the utilization of FVRCP vaccines could prevent a similar shelter outbreak, and the resulting euthanizations, for cats. As with kennel cough, FVRCP is a treatable illness, she noted.
The award of the grant, Robinson said, would be accompanied by several stipulations.
Among them, the Sampson County Animal Shelter agrees to track and share with the Petfinder Foundation monthly shelter statistics for the duration of the grant project, including intake and euthanization figures, so the impact of the grant award can be measured.
The shelter also agrees to provide a final written report of how the grant was used and the results achieved, as well as all receipts, Robinson stated. Additionally, the shelter agrees to follow standard protocol and procedures for monitoring, storing, handling and administering the vaccines, she said.
“Any funds not used or committed for the specific purpose of the grant after one year must be returned to the Petfinder Foundation, unless otherwise authorized in writing,” said Robinson.
She said any questions, concerns or challenges prior to, or during the implementation of either project can be communicated to the foundation.
“I look forward to hearing more from Sampson County Animal Shelter in the months and years ahead,” Robinson stated.
Before her departure, Baxter worked to solicit donations and grant funding to assist the Sampson County Animal Shelter, which was able to receive a number of donations from a Twelve Days of Christmas fundraiser for the purchase of cages and supplies. The board accepted $4,669 in donations in addition to the $16,300 in grant funds.
“It appears to me that (former director) Mr. (Kim) Williams had done some things that moved us forward in a positive direction with state inspections. Mrs. Baxter had done some very good work as far as introducing us to Facebook and a variety of programs,” said Causey. “I think now this is the culmination of some of her work and we can move forward in a very positive fashion.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.