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Stray, homeless animals a a growing problem in Halifax

Cheryl Watts of the Halifax County Humane Society told Halifax County Board of Supervisors the animal help organization cannot “rescue our way to a solution” Monday night during the board’s regular monthly meeting in Halifax.

According to Watts, the biggest program Halifax County is facing continues to be stray and homeless animals. 

A single pair of animals could ultimately result in 9.8 million in only nine years, said Watts.

She told supervisors animal control officers received 2,255 calls for service in 2012, an increase of 85 from the previous year, seeing a total of 741 animals. 

“The county must do something pro-active to keep the stray/homeless rates from rising even further,” she added.

“A good place to start would be significant increases for tags for an unneutered animal. The last time this was discussed years ago, the main objection was a supervisor who said his hunters would get mad and others who said some people just wouldn’t buy the tags. Responsible hunters would either fix their animals or pay a high fee. Irresponsible hunters would either pay the higher fee or get fined for no tags. I’d like to think that most hunters and other responsible citizens can see the importance of taking some kind of action,” she added.

In the past year, the Humane Society has had 21 dogs adopted, 269 cats adopted, 55 dogs transferred to another Virginia locality or facility, 342 dogs and one cat transferred to approved out-of-state facilities. It also has had 75 dogs and 136 cats surrendered by their owners, and five dogs and four cats die in the facility.

Other facilities that received the animals were Homeward Trails Animal Rescue in Arlington, Capital Area Rescue Effort in Sandston, Beagle Rescue, Education and Welfare of Northern Virginia of Alexandria, and out of state facilities in New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Connecticut.

With the larger number of animals, the society dealt with even greater expenses.

“We reached a crisis level twice, but public appeals brought response to keep us afloat,” Watts said.

After deducting reimbursements of $2,631.62 from rescue groups to which the animals were sent, Watts said expenses totaled $41,403 last year, translating to about $55 per animal.

The society’s largest expenses include veterinarian care at $29,133 and gas for transports at $4,111.90. The two totals account for approximately 73 percent of the organization’s total expenses, she added.

“Our over population of strays and homeless grows larger every year. No matter how hard we work or how successful our program is, Halifax County can not rescue its way to a solution,” Watts concluded.