Georgia – The Bulloch Co pound’s webpage is on the county government website. It indicates the shelter is closed on weekends and describes what appears to be a limited admission status. The local paper, the Statesboro Herald, publishes weekly reports detailing the number of animals handled at the facility. I previously wrote about a 3 week period in Bulloch Co from August 26 – September 15, 2013. Here are the reports in the weeks since that post:
It is unknown how many animals died in their cages, were impounded or were killed during the week of October 14 – 20 since the paper reported the information was “unavailable”. If we exclude that week entirely and include the stats from the previous post on Bulloch Co, we have 8 weeks worth of data from the pound. In the absence of a yearly report, which does not appear on the pound’s website, we can at least gain some insight into how shelter animals fare in Bulloch Co by examining the numbers for these 8 weeks.
For the 8 weeks worth of data collected between August 26 and October 27 at the Bulloch Co pound:
- Total intake: 420
- Total killed: 263
- Total died in cage: 99
- Live release rate: almost 14%
I have never seen any published data on the number of animals who die in their cages at shelters. I once asked the director of my local pet killing facility (where 3 out of 4 animals are killed every year) how many pets die in their cages there and she told me it was a “very rare” occurrence. I contacted former shelter director and current No Kill Advocacy Center director Nathan Winograd for some hard numbers:
In Tompkins [County, NY], when I was there, it was just under 1%. When I’ve crunched the numbers, using a database of about 1,100 shelters, the average was 4% (I always thought that was incredibly high) and that included kill shelters which would drive that number up.
While 4% seems very high to me too (I would have thought 1% at most), at least it gives us a number with which to work. In Bulloch Co, the percentage of animals dying in their cages for the 8 weeks worth of recent data published in the Stateboro Herald is approximately 24%. This is 6 times the average calculated by Nathan Winograd. And by any compassionate human being’s account, it’s obviously a staggering figure. Roughly 1 in 4 dogs and cats impounded by the Bulloch Co pound are falling over dead in their cages and less than 14% are getting out alive. And this is happening at a public facility which limits admissions for owner surrenders.
I’ve asked before and I will ask again: What is going on at the shelter in Bulloch Co? Neither healthy dogs and cats nor those being treated for conditions commonly seen at shelters (coughs, colds, mange, broken limbs, etc.) die in their cages under ordinary circumstances. It seems only logical to believe that there are an unusually high number of dogs and cats who are being left to suffer to death in their cages at Bulloch Co. But how and why is this happening? In the absence of any sensible explanation, my mind started to venture into some very dark places. So I wrote to the shelter and asked.
I received 2 responses from Bulloch Co pound manager Wendy Ivey. I have snipped the relevant portions from both e-mails and pasted them below:
Do animals die in their kennels, yes sometimes they do. When an animal becomes unexpectedly sick, which is very common in the Shelter worlds due to not knowing the animals history or previous medical care, unfortunately the passing of the animal can take place in their kennels while staff is not here. Sometimes even while the animal is being medically evaluated and treated, the animal still may pass while in their kennel. This is no different than being in a Veterinary Hospital, under 24 hour staff care and they pass while in their kennels.
The high numbers of our “died at shelter” are normally within the Feline population. We have disease outbreaks that we encounter often with housing a high number of animals, Feline or Canine. Unfortunately, Bulloch Co. is highly over populated with Felines as we all know. When these cats come into the shelter in large groups or litters, especially feral and ones from within colony’s, it’s common for most of them to come in with upper respiratory infections as well as other forms of contagious diseases amongst cats. We have also in the last 4 months or so, been fighting a new disease to us within cats, known as Feline Parvo. It is much like Canine Parvo, where it hits without warning. Symptoms begin to show and within hours can be fatal and spreads very rapidly. We are still learning this form of disease within the feline population. There is no vaccine to prevent it nor is there a cure when they become stricken with it. Our sick and feral cats that come in are isolated away from our domestic and healthy cats, to help with the disease control process and prevent further spreading to our healthy cats, but is not always a 100% effective. Due to this, unfortunately you have at times a large number of sick cats together at one time. So the number of decease cats from sickness is not uncommon at the shelter, especially during our peak months. During these months, a normal number of cats housed ranges between 85 to 100 cats a day. The high numbers can also be contributed to having litters that come in that no longer have their mother to nurse and are already sickly. We then try to place them with another nursing mother that’s available, but most times those litters don’t make it or the new mother is not accepting of the babies. I could go on and on with other reasons that numbers can be high at times at the shelter but again, being a county wide animal shelter facility, not having a 24 hour staff available as a Veterinary Hospital would, and dealing with approximately over 250 animals a month (not including wildlife and our peak months), it can be difficult to save everything. We do our best to eliminate these situations from happening as much and best we can. It is of no fault or lack of care from our staff or facility. We do the best we can to house these animals and isolate the disease as best we can. I feel our numbers are typical, compared to other shelters. I also do feel it’s hard to say or compare our numbers as being “high” only at the Bulloch Co. Animal Shelter, because most shelters do not even report these numbers of a animal dying at shelter or necessarily keep record of them. Bulloch Co. chooses to give this information openly, because we want the public to be aware of all of it.
What do you think? Do you agree with the manager that having 1 out of 4 animals fall over dead in their cages at the Bulloch Co pound “is of no fault or lack of care from our staff or facility” and that they are doing the best they can? Should this municipal pound be given some sort of pass for publicly reporting their stats? What do you make of the manager’s assertion that there is no vaccine to prevent “feline parvo” aka panleukopenia (the P in the routine FVRCP vaccine administered to cats)?
Note: After I received the second response from Ms. Ivey, I requested the most recent year’s statistics for the Bulloch Co pound. I haven’t yet received a response to that request. If I do, I will update this post.