Close to 50 people turned out to share their concerns and suggestions about animal control in Carroll County in a forum that included Carroll County Commissioners Richard Rothschild, Doug Howard and Haven Shoemaker.
Laura Shenk, founder of Animal Advocates of Carroll County, said that there are things the Carroll County Humane Society can do to help improve adoption rates and lower the number of animals being euthanized. Extending hours on weekends and opening a centrally located shelter, according to Shenk, would allow more families to adopt animals in Carroll County.
Another speaker affiliated with Animal Advocates of Carroll County said she would like to see the Humane Society strive to be a no-kill shelter.
Edward Smith, an animal control officer for the Humane Society, said that a no kill shelter would not work in Carroll County.
"With a no kill shelter, you'll force people to abandon animals on the road side," Smith said. "Animals will just go other places to be euthanized."
He said the employees at the Humane Society also want to see higher adoption rates and fewer animals euthanized.
"I can tell you we all want that," Smith said.
Linda Hagan said she was attending the meeting as a concerned citizen and animal lover. She offered ideas for improved marketing of the Humane Society and animals available for adoption there. She also said that the county should offer a low cost spay and neuter program and work to educate the public about the animal population and its consequences.
"I don't think people realize how many pets are euthanized every year," Hagan said. "To kill healthy animals to me is just immoral and it's wrong. I think we need to find a more humane way to deal with our problem, killing them isn't the answer."
An employee of the Carroll County Humane Society, Dave Ledford said that the organization does the best it can with the resources it has.
"I agree money has a lot to do with why we're here. These are great ideas but if there's no money for those ideas, it can't be done," Ledford said.
Ledford added that more good will come of animal advocates and citizens and the shelter working together to find solutions.
"I hope that the forward thinking can be one of coming together instead of fighting about this issue," Ledford said. "I think that so many people are butting heads and it has caused so many problems at the shelter and in the community. Everyone wants the same ultimate goal in my opinion."
The Carroll County Humane Society took in 1,066 dogs and 2,232 cats between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30 of this year, according to Executive Director Nicky Ratliff.
Of the dogs taken into the shelter, 373, or 35 percent, were euthanized, according to Ratliff. That number includes 197 dogs that were euthanized at the request of the owner.
Of the cats taken into the the shelter, 1,406, or 63 percent, were euthanized. 260 of the cats euthanized were done so at the request of the owner, Ratliff said.
Ratliff was not present at the meeting but previously told Patch that the shelter is doing the best it can with the resources it has. She said that she simply doesn't have the space or resources to house, feed and provide medical care for all the animals that come to the shelter.
Carroll County contracts with the Humane Society to provide animal control services to county citizens. The county has budgeted $883,370 for animal control services in fiscal year 2014.
Commissioner Doug Howard said he thinks it is worth exploring a low cost spay/neuter program at the Humane Society to help address the feral cat issue in the county.
The commissioners agreed they would take up the discussion in open session with the full board of commissioners at a later date.