A Day on the Front Line

By Max Resnik

July 5, 2011 Updated Jul 5, 2011 at 6:22 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – On average, 45 animals everyday are relocated to Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control. It is a number that equates to about 16,000 animals each year. Only nine or 10 animals, on average, are adopted each day. So how does Animal Care & Control make up for the space?

The options for the folks at Animal Care & Control are numerous. Once an animal is dropped off or picked up by animal control officers, veterinarians and technicians examine an animal’s health and temperament.

Because Animal Care & Control is an arm of Fort Wayne’s public safety, they must first determine any future danger posed to humans if the animal were to be adopted. If the animal does prove to be healthy and sociable, Animal Care & Control will attempt to adopt the animal. Peggy Bender, in charge of education at Animal Care & Control, says adoption is about human safety.

“So it becomes looking at them medically and looking at their temperament and going through temperament tests to determine whether this animal is a safe animal, a healthy animal or whether there can be treatment to make that animal a healthy, social animal that can be placed into an adoption program.”

Adoption is done at Animal Care & Control. They also have other options when capacity has reached its maximum including breeder’s shelters and other animal shelters. In very low instances, based on numbers provided by Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control, they will have to put an animal down to create more space. Bender says giving up on an animal or abandoning an animal for control officers to find should be a last resort.

“We have to tell people to use us as a last resort. If you can't make a happy ending for that one animal, it's difficult to expect us to make a happy ending for 45 animals arriving to us every single day.”

In 2010, more than 5,600 dogs found homes at Animal Care & Control. Of all those dogs, 20 were put down to create more space equaling about 0.4% of the total dog population at Animal Care & Control.

Cats are a bit of a different story. So many of the cats that arrive at Animal Care & Control come from farms and from metropolitan areas like downtown Fort Wayne. In these cases, reproduction occurs at a higher rate and these cats, for the most part, are feral and do not interact at all with humans. Cats dominate space at Animal Care & Control.

Of the more than 8,200 cats at Animal Care & Control in 2010, a little more than 2,300 had to put down to create more space. Again, most of these cats are not physically or emotionally fit to interact with humans.

The folks at Animal Care & Control say the best solution to drawing back the number of homeless animals is to have them spayed and neutered.

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