The Sampson County Animal Shelter & Pet Adoption Center has faced “challenging” times in the past year or so, its new director said, but positive strides are being made as a more humane form of euthanasia begins its implementation and resolution is sought for staffing and building needs.
New director Alan Canady said the shelter received its Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) licensing last week to begin lethal injection and demolish the gas chamber. Canady said that is a positive step, but, combined with a growing animal population and state mandates on cleaning procedures and disease control, is one that will require extra personnel.
He said he plans to request one additional full-time shelter attendant and one part-time attendant as part of the 2013-14 budget, as well as recommend improvements to further prevent disease outbreaks. Strict accountability standards in terms of cruelty cases, cleanliness and more humane euthanasia all contribute to the need for more staff, Canady said.
“Our population has skyrocketed,” said Canady. We really need to look at adding personnel to our roster,because the way the economy is moving and the way this shelter is moving, to make sure it is run properly and staffed properly and to keep my personnel safe, we really need to look at adding more people.”
The shelter recently received a grant from the Humane Society to help dismantle the gas chamber. That is an effort that is under way now that the proper DEA licensing has been received.
“Since we will be moving to strictly using lethal injection, we will be in a labor dilemma,” said Canady. “To safely and successfully perform lethal injection you must use two staff members. One staff member performs the injection while the other holds and moves the animals. One staff member must be present at all time for drug control.”
Canady said it is “impossible” to perform lethal injection with one person. It takes two people about 5 to 10 minutes per animal to safely and successfully perform the task.
“You need to get up close and personal with the animals,” said Canady. “Where, with the gas chamber, you can put two animals in there and walk away, now you have to 5 to 10 minutes per animal and those two people are wrapped up for that time.”
Disease control has been another issue at the shelter, Canady noted.
Since coming on board Jan. 7, Canady has put into place new cleaning procedures that will help with that. It is hoped the new protocols will curb parvo virus outbreaks that the county’s facility has fought in the past year. While that battle is one the shelter will always have to wage, building modifications can help.
Canady said the concrete within the entire shelter needs to be sealed. Concrete is porous and can hold the virus no matter how much the staff cleans, he said.
“It is a disease harbor to be honest,” said Canady, who said he has taken stop-gap measures to make conditions better. “It has slowed down, but as soon as we get to summer time it’s going to get worse. I will be asking for funds, because we really need this for our shelter. This is something (the state inspector) says we need to get done.”
The addition of an air conditioning system in the kennel area would also aid temperature control. State regulations require shelters to stay between 55 and 85 degrees.
Canady cited laws affecting shelter operations, both in the area of sanitation and housing animals.
Strict sanitary conditions must be met at all times, and the shelter is subject to at least biannual unannounced visits from inspectors. Canady said the current staffing allows for a norm of two full-time shelter attendants and one part-time attendant during the week and one each day on the weekend.
The National Animal Control Association, based on the Sampson shelter’s current statistics, suggests that there be a staff of six shelter attendants each day, Canady said. When just one works during the weekend, the same standards of cleaning still apply, he noted. The director said it was “not a good practice” to have just one attendant, due both to the amount of time it takes to clean the entire shelter properly and being alone in the kennel area with some possibly aggressive animals.
“NACA does recommend six personnel, but I think it can be done with less than that with what we have to do,” said Canady, “but we really need to, if possible, look at more personnel to keep it running the way it needs to go in the future.”
Another N.C. law, which took effect in 2011, states that if an animal is surrendered by an owner to the shelter, the owner must show proof of ownership. If no proof is shown, the animal must be held for 72 hours before it can be adopted or rescued. That has caused animals to be held longer, said Canady, and stricter animal cruelty laws that see more impounding and holding of animals has only compounded the shelter’s growing population.
“Any animal cruelty case we have in this county where animals are impounded, they come to our shelter,” said Canady. “It’s not unusual for us to have to hold those animals for a year.”
Along with assisting in the needed areas of euthanasia and cleaning, additional staff would also help boost adoption rates and ensure social media is updated in a timelier manner, Canady noted.
“Social media has helped our adoption/rescue rate increase by 300 percent; it has also caused our euthanasia rate to drop by 50 percent,” Canady stated. “We want to continue to use this helpful tool.”
Anna Ellis, who coordinates rescues and adoptions, has other primary duties that cause social media updates to commonly fall a day behind, the director said.
“I realize that funds are limited, but I believe without question that these are needs that need to be addressed,” he said. “The goal for any animal shelter is to have an animal leave out the front door rather than the back.”
Facebook is a great asset in that regard, and Canady said he also wants to increase local advertisements for adoptable animals. For 2012, Canady said local adoptions only accounted for 10 percent of the animals adopted.
“Within the next year, I would like to see that double. Within the help of local humane organizations we will have adoption events at our shelter and also within our community.”
“In 2012, local adoptions only 10 percent of the animals adopted. Within the next year, I would like to see that double. With the help of local humane organizations we will have adoption events at our shelter and also within our community.”
Since July 2012, the shelter has utilized a volunteer program, which currently has a roster of 10 volunteers. Four of those are weekly volunteers. Volunteers are permitted to clean animal cages, walk animals, wash animals, wash linens and clean other shelter areas. Canady said he wants to use volunteers to further enhance adoptions and assist local outreach during events, as well as complementing secretarial work.
More full-time and part-time paid personnel are still needed.
“I want to make Sampson County the best there is,” said Canady. “We are on a good path, but will need additional help in a few areas to stay on that track. I believe with one full-time shelter attendant and one part-time shelter attendant, they would be able to assist with the tasks needed to continue on this track and further enhance our number one mission, which is finding our animals permanent homes.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.