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