By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR – It’s an unfortunate business, said the manager of Taylor Animal Shelter.
“I have four officers who do what people don’t want to,” said Lanny Hall, manager of the city’s North Line Road facility.
When possible the shelter finds homes for dogs, cats and other animals left there, either by residents or – increasingly – from other cities Downriver and elsewhere. Stray and injured animals are among hundreds processed there, not all of which are or can be adopted.
Allegations that the shelter violated state policies – as charged by an animal rights activist group – were determined to have been limited after a recent review by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and state officials.
“We have minimal issues to be cleared up,” Hall said. “They didn’t find much wrong.”
A review of the shelter’s practices was requested by the Michigan Political Action Committee for Animals, which reportedly had received complaints about record-keeping practices.
Hall presented a recent summary of activity at the shelter at a city council meeting. Of the 749 animals received over a nine-month period, more than 600 were adopted, returned to owners or given to rescue organizations; 137 were reported euthanized.
Statistics on the number of animals euthanized at shelters vary. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the operations have limited resources that often prevent the compilation of state or national rates. Operations similar to Taylor typically euthanize about 50 percent of dogs that are left there, and 70 percent of cats.
Estimates posted online by animal watchdog organizations have listed Taylor in the median range: Some shelters have reported a more than 80 percent kill rate on dogs. Reports submitted to the Michigan Depatment of Agriculture and Rural Development reflect a range of animal rescue projects, shelters and hospitals with varying rates of euthanized animals.
That didn’t halt social media comments, which prompted Hall to address city council earlier this month. The political action committee postings attracted other accusations that Hall stated were untrue.
“We’ve been accused of killing a cat when the cat was at the shelter,” Hall said. “People made up stories. We’re not perfect, but we do the best we can.”
Council members noted that shelter reports also are reviewed by city officials, and that the latest figures were the lowest euthanasia rates in 15 years. Councilman Tim Woolley addressed the limited resources and staff tasked with handling hundreds of animals.
“The more time we spent on accusations slows the train,” Woolley said. “We appreciate everything you guys do.”
Funding, too, is limited for the shelter, which Hall said is nearing the end of a $10,000 federal grant. Additional funds are raised by a volunteer group – Pound Pals of Taylor – who attended the city council meeting in support.
“We have a great group here,” Hall said of the volunteers. “We’re here for one thing, and that’s the animals.”
Mayor Rick Sollars echoed the council’s support, and noted a recent adoption event the shelter held to place as many animals as possible.
“This is a publicly run, municipal shelter,” Sollars said. “We have limitations.”
Sollars said the shelter often has accepted animals from cities and facilities which further tax its resources.
“It’s becoming full of other animals and we’ve had to send residents away because we didn’t have room,” Sollars said. “It won’t be perfect, and I recognize the desire to always do better, but we do have limitations.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].)