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Animal euthanasia

It's something that nobody wants to think about, but when pet overpopulation problems get out of control, it's bound to happen.

Nicky Ratliff, executive director of the Humane Society of Carroll County, said it's impossible to adopt all of the more than 6,000 animals the shelter receives each year.

The Humane Society was able to return 400 of the stray dogs brought into the shelter in 2005 to their owners, or 52 percent, Ratliff said. For cats, that number was only 30, or 1.6 percent, and for the miscellaneous animals, only 21 were returned to their owners, or 5 percent. As for the rest of the animals, 1,148 of them were adopted. Most of the rest were euthanized.

"The problem is, it's a social problem; it's not a Humane Society problem," Ratliff said. "It's a blight, I think, on society, that as a society that we don't cherish animals more than we do."

No-kill shelters

For years, there was animosity in the animal shelter community between organizations that employ euthanasia and those that don't. These so-called no-kill shelters would beat the drum of their cause, Ratliff said, trying to pull support away from publicly funded organizations that do euthanize animals.

"I don't like the word 'no-kill' because what it implies is that the people who operate those facilities are better because they don't kill animals, and it sounds like people who work in facilities like mine - we don't mind or we get a kick out of it," Ratliff said. "It is a fundraising technique. I have no problem with them getting money, I just have a problem with the public being misled."

A more appropriate title for these facilities would be "limited admission," Ratliff said. Like all animal shelters, no-kill shelters have a limited amount of spaces for the animals, and when they reach those limits, all others are turned away. The Humane Society is an open admission facility, she said, which will take in all animals, help adopt those that it can, and humanely euthanize those that it cannot.

The Association for Animal Rights Inc. operates a no-kill facility just over the county line in Reisterstown. The association was started in 1989 by a group of friends who wanted to help rescue animals, said facility manager Taryn Blonder. They fostered these pets in their homes until they could find new adopting families. In 1998, the association opened the adoption center on Main Street in Reisterstown, which has allowed the organization to gain more recognition and to attract more adoptive families, Blonder said.

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full story: http://www.carrollcounty.com/articles/ 2006/05/14/news/local_news/news1o.txt

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