Kill rate at Metro animal shelter raises alarm with advocates - WNEM TV 5

Kill rate at Metro animal shelter raises alarm

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

There are so many pets being destroyed every day in Nashville that even the mayor is calling for change, but it's not that easy.

Despite record adoptions, Metro Animal Control is literally overrun with dogs and cats.

The tragic truth is every week, dozens of healthy, adoptable animals are euthanized.

The city's big, modern shelter is designed to hold 250 animals, but it takes in about 1,000 animals every month. With all the other local rescue groups also full, there's no room in the pen, and adoption row becomes death row for many.

The Metro shelter has dozens of cute dogs ready to go home right now, and in many ways its mission is working. Animal Control officials have reported the city's biggest adoption month ever, and kills are at an all-time low.

However, when 25 percent of your healthy, adoptable, adorable dogs are put down, that can feel like failure.

"In the winter months, we're a little more flexible, because it's a little slower. The summer months is the time when we really have to set a limit, because we have so many coming through," said Billy Biggs, with Metro Animal Control. "The rule is once you get into adoption, you're there three weeks. If you are there beyond the three weeks, we see if one of our partners can take you in. Worst comes to worst, you are euthanized. It's the worst job here, having to make that decision."

Critics are now circulating a petition demanding change, saying the city's kill rate feels overly high.

Entertainer Kelly Clarkson is among those asking for signatures, as she tweeted a link to the petition on Tuesday, urging her followers, "Please help, Nashville! Let's show other cities how we are not only progressive but compassionate."

But some of the people on the front lines, like those at Emmy Lou Harris' rescue group, Bonaparte's Retreat, say Metro Animal Control is put in an impossible situation and there aren't enough rescue beds to change things.

"There are over 30 rescues in Nashville, and even with 30 rescues, every rescue is already at capacity. I probably get five calls a day from people wanting to give up their dogs. We do what we can," said Kate Derr, with Bonaparte's Retreat.

Some have offered possible solutions to the overcrowding issues, including charging $300 to people for a dog license if they won't spay or neuter their pets.

And Animal Control officials have expressed a desire to raise the dog license from $4 to $6 in order to pay for three more officers on the street who would be able to offer quicker service to the public.

Folks at area rescues say they could take more dogs if they had more people willing to foster dogs by housing them for two or three months in their home.

Metro Animal Control has also adjusted some of its adoption prices, in hopes of finding homes for the animals. Dog adoptions are $90, and cats are $60. Seniors who are willing to take a dog 5 years in age or older only pay $45, and special needs animals are now just $15.

All adoption fees include spaying or neutering.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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