Making a difference for animals

Published 2:28 pm Tuesday, August 28, 2012

We’re big fans of the Suffolk Humane Society, and evidence that the organization has had a hand in reducing the rate of euthanasia among animals brought to the Suffolk animal shelter proves there’s good reason for folks in Suffolk to share our enthusiasm.

In 2006, Suffolk euthanized 78 percent of the cats and 51 percent of the dogs brought to the animal shelter, significantly more than combined euthanasia rates for Virginia rescue agencies and municipal facilities of 53 percent of cats and 34 percent of dogs.

Five years later, and after the humane society formed in March 2007, the city in 2011 euthanized 66 percent of the cats and 35 percent of the dogs that were captured, according to statistics from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

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Those numbers are still high, compared to other cities in Hampton Roads, but the trend is heading in the right direction, and that’s good news for the animals, for those who work at the shelter and for the families in Suffolk that have taken advantage of the opportunity to adopt a dog or cat from the shelter or the humane society at a reasonable price.

The partnership between Suffolk Humane and the city has been a fruitful one, and it has contributed to what officials call a “culture change” among animal shelter employees toward adoption as the preferred method of dealing with the unwanted and stray animals that wind up in the city’s care. That culture change also has contributed to the lower rate of euthanasia, and the city’s 2009 policy of spaying or neutering captured animals has helped, as well. Suffolk is to be congratulated for both developments.

But the fact that there is now an organization whose sole purpose is to work on behalf of animals is, perhaps, the single most important thing to have happened for those animals in the past five years. And the Suffolk Humane Society’s continuing effort to educate the public on the need for spaying and neutering could make an even bigger difference on the numbers than its many adoption drives.

To learn more about the Suffolk Humane Society and how you can make a difference in the lives of abandoned and stray animals, visit