Sutter animal shelter too crowded – hold those cats
The Sutter County Animal Shelter has instituted an optional no-vacancy policy regarding cats.
Recent reforms at the badly overcrowded facility include strict limits to control the number of animals taken in. The move is a necessity during the peak months for feline births, according to the shelter's manager.
The shelter's capacity is 66 dogs and 65 cats.
"The key point is that if we are at capacity, with all of our cat housing full, we will ask you to hold on to the cat for an extra day," said Bob Clary, recently appointed the shelter's interim manager. "We will take them when space is available."
The only other alternative, he said, is to euthanize more animals — an option that those working in the shelter and overseeing its operations do not want to take.
By law, shelter staff can euthanize an animal 72 hours after intake, Clary said.
But the last resort will be taken "only after we've exhausted every other resource."
Asking people who wish to relinquish cats to wait, he said, allows staff and volunteers to try to relocate shelter cats to foster homes or to animal shelters elsewhere to make room for more.
"Networking often takes a day or two to reduce the volume," reads a press release issued by the county. "Until then, if we took additional cats in, it would require having to euthanize healthy adoptable cats that have been with us."
Cat numbers begin to climb dramatically beginning in April and usually peak in June and July. The problem is especially pronounced in the Mid-Valley, where so few animals are spayed or neutered.
During June 2009 — an unusually difficult month — the Sutter County Animal Shelter took in 345 cats — nearly five times as many cats as in December of 2008.
Only 17 cats were adopted that June.
U.C. Davis veterinarian Kate Hurley, an expert in the field of shelter medicine, broached the option several months ago of doing away with cat housing altogether at the shelter.
Hurley was recently contracted to initiate and oversee changes in policy and management at the shelter, and to prepare for a new shelter that is still in a planning, pre-construction stage.
Among her first tasks will be to advise management about coping with the area's high feral cat numbers and lack of effective spay-neuter programs.
Hurley was hired by the county last year to inspect and evaluate the troubled and badly overcrowded shelter on Second Street in Yuba City.
CONTACT Nancy Pasternack at email@example.com or 749-4781. Find her on Facebook at /ADnpasternack or on Twitter at @ADnpasternack.