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Kanawha Shelter Under Fire For Euthanizing Animals

Reported by: Send eMail Stefano DiPietrantonio
Reported: Jul. 8, 2014 10:47 PM EDT
Updated: Jul. 9, 2014 9:06 AM EDT
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Shelter Under Fire
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Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia

The Kanawha Charleston Animal Shelter is taking heat on Facebook after putting seven dogs down on Monday.

Shelter workers said they are still stinging from the hurtful comments on social media and that it is never an easy decision to euthanize animals.

But the so-called no-kill shelter is making every effort to live up to that ideal.

The kittens meow and cry when you approach their cages. They are looking for homes. There is a backlog of pets at the shelter right now, so big, unpopular decisions had to be made.

"This weighs among all the staff,” said Chelsea Staley, executive director of the Kanawha Charleston Animal Shelter. “Everybody's walking around looking sad."

Staley said they put down seven dogs on Monday, most of which were extremely aggressive and been there for six months or longer. They were not fit for foster homes or rescues and the shelter just cannot keep them all.

"The term we're trying to use is life-saving shelter,” Staley said. “And the idea behind that is we save everything that is adoptable, treatable and rehabilitate-able."

Staley estimates 10 percent or less of all the animals brought in get put down, or if they are a dog aggressive animal or ill beyond treatment.

"The worst possible thing for dog aggressive dogs, is to put a dog who hates other dogs in a room with 60 others," Staley said.

It’s a volatile situation for the dogs and workers. Right now,170 dogs at the animal shelter need homes, but there are only 150 dog housing compartments. There also is a dog isolation ward with 20 cages, but 16 of those are filled with healthy dogs that need to be moved; there is just nowhere to go.

"At this point, we are just so overcapacity that our staff are stressed out, our staff is stretched too thin and it's really difficult to manage aggressive dogs in this environment," Staley said.

The shelter also averages about two dogs weekly that are hit by cars.

The shelter is proud to have saved more than 80 percent of all animals that have come in since Sept. 1.

"Clearly, we tried and we tried our best, and it was not an easy decision on anyone's part," Staley said.

The shelter said you can help keep the numbers at the shelter down by adopting pets, not buying them from pet stores, and volunteer to foster one of the shelter's animals. It also suggests that the shelter should not be considered the first option. If you cannot keep your pet, try to find it a good home.



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