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Posted by: thepinetree on 06/26/2009 10:18 PM Updated by: thepinetree on 06/27/2009 08:31 AM
Expires: 01/01/2014 12:00 AM

It’s a Dog’s Life in Calaveras County~by Blair Wiley

Do you know where the Animal Shelter is located? You drive up Mountain Ranch Road from San Andreas and turn left at the Red Barn Museum, drive as far as you can go and you will find the Animal Shelter. This was built in 1960 and since that time very little has been done to improve the building. The Grand Jury over the past years has continually pointed out to the County the need for a new shelter. In 2005 the Sheriffs department took over the.....

responsibility for Animal Services and much needed improvements have been made to the building. Sheriffs Sergeants, on a rotating basis, have been placed in charge and the lot of the animals has improved. However, due to the lack of dog kennels, seventeen to be exact, animals often only have four days to be rescued or reclaimed, before being euthanized. The euthanisa rate has been reduced due to present management and the work of volunteers getting dogs and cats to rescue facilities and adopted. In some cases smaller dogs or puppies are placed in cat cages for lack of space. The majority of the animals are dogs and cats, although Animal Services is also responsible for the horses, mules, goats, and birds, etc, that are homeless or need to be protected.

The current shelter is difficult to keep clean and sanitized. If a disease breaks out sick animals cannot be quarantined due to not having anywhere to house them separately, which has resulted in the shelter being closed. During this time no animals can be impounded or adopted until the disease is brought under control.

Since the Animal Shelter was built in 1960 the population of Calaveras County has more than doubled, and with it the population of animals. The Animal Shelter is under staffed (seven including the sergeant) and it depends largely on the Calaveras Humane Society volunteers (around 51) who exercise and walk the dogs, clean cat cages and help find people willing to adopt animals or to foster them until such time that they can be adopted. Another group of Calaveras Humane Society volunteers (around 20) raise funds to help pay for the animals that must be spayed or neutered prior to adoption. They also provide funds for the treatment of sick or injured animals as well as assisting the County in the paperwork related to the mailing of dog licensing fees.

The current financial crisis has created a large number of pets that have been either turned in at the Animal Shelter or abandoned by their owners and who are then rounded up as strays. Of the estimated 40,000 dogs in Calaveras County perhaps less than 25% have been licensed or have ID tags, thus the Animal Control Offices have no way of finding their owners, few if any have been chipped. This service is provided by Animal Services at a minimal charge of $12.

The mass of these animals have not been spayed or neutered, even though the Humane Society provides coupons that provide a significant discount to have a pet altered at any veterinarian in Calaveras County. A cat that has not been spayed can have multiple litters in a year and its kittens can have more off springs in the same year, this can result in close to a thousand cats by the end of a twelve-month period. The majority of these kittens are then left to their own devices with little hope of surviving. It should be noted that at least one county in California requires that all pets be neutered or spayed, other than licensed breeders, working animals and animals deemed to old for the procedure. Special permits do however allow exception to these rules.

If the owners that abandon animals think that they are doing their pets a favor, they should in fact visit the Animal Shelter and look at the state of these stray animals that have rounded up after a few days or weeks without food or water. These abandoned animals create a major financial burden to the already strapped Animal Control Department and also at a time that the County faces a significant short fall in its income.

A new Shelter that can meet the needs of the growing animal population of Calaveras County is essential. A new Shelter would resolve many of today’s problems.

A larger shelter with more kennels and cat cages would allow these animals to be kept alive the extra few days that would allow the owners to find their pets. A new shelter would facilitate keeping it disease free. An area to keep sick animals quarantined would allow the shelter to keep its doors open.

A new shelter that is clean and attractive so that families can feel comfortable in bringing their children (many of which now go to shelters in other counties) to look at animals that are available for adoption. In comparison to most counties in California with similar demographics our shelter is totally inadequate.

The Calaveras Humane Society is currently looking at the alternatives (in co-operation with Calaveras County) by which they could build a new Animal Shelter.

If any readers are interested in volunteering time or money to assist the Calaveras Humane Society in this endeavor, please contact CHS at 736-9417 or send donations to:

Calaveras Humane Society
P O Box 177
Vallecito, CA 95251

Thank you,
Blair Wiley
President Calaveras Humane Society

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