Humane Society shelter taking steps to close

Published 9:19 am Wednesday, August 6, 2014

It’s business as usual for the Humane Society of Escambia County – at least for the next three weeks.

Last month, the local organization dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and governing agency of animal control for the county announced it had depleted its annual budget and would be closing its doors.

Renee Jones, shelter director, said her staff of one administrator and five part-time employees work a seven-day-a-week schedule to provide care to more than 100 animals.

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That plan won’t change until Aug. 31, she said.
“We’re still there; we’re still working,” Jones said. “We’re still taking animals, but we have to figure out ways to clear out the shelter. We’ve created albums to put on Facebook to let partner shelters can pick and choose what they want, and of course, we’re still doing adoptions.”

Jones said funding deficits and increases in operating expenses has forced the shelter to make the drastic announcement.

“I’m proud to say, though, that we’ve increased our live rate by 58 percent since December 2004,” she said. “We run a humane shelter. I can’t stress that enough. A lot of people will criticize me for that, but we don’t enforce the state minimum of a seven-day kill rule.”

Under state law, an animal must be kept in shelter for at least seven days before being euthanized. Jones said the county shelter “has no hard and fast” euthanization policy.

“It’s my personal belief, and this organization’s philosophy and belief, that as long as an animal stays mentally and physically healthy, it’s adoptable,” she said. “Our capacity (at the shelter) is such that we keep it as such that the stress level for animals and staff is manageable. After that, we only euthanize the least adoptable. Now, that also means that if it takes us two years to get a dog healthy, that’s what we’re going to do.”

Jones said animal care is also a huge expense for the shelter, and adoption fees do not cover what it takes to spay or neuter an animal. Adoption fees are $50 for cats; $75 for dogs. The fee also covers pet micro-chipping, Jones said.

“We also make sure they have all their vaccinations, too,” she said. “We have a sheet that shows you what you would pay if you took a new pet into the vet for its first visit. Our cost is much lower, but that’s because we have such a great partnership with our local vet.”

The shelter is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from noon until 4 p.m. for adoptions and is located between mile markers 61 and 62 on Hwy. 31. If traveling from Brewton is on the left before arriving in Flomaton.

Jones said the humane society, once it ceases to operate the shelter, will focus on education and public service.

Brewton Publisher Stephanie Nelson wrote this story for The Atmore Advance.