Tina Limbaugh, director of the shelter, confirmed 538 cats and dogs had been taken to the Greater Birmingham Humane Society since April 28. City officials met with Limbaugh and members of the Animal Rescue Foundation Tuesday to discuss how to deal with the unmanageable number of animals being left at the shelter.
Mayor Sam Wright said the shelter took in nearly 4,000 animals since January. He said people were leaving animals after hours to avoid questions and making a donation.
“The biggest thing is funding,” Wright said. “Donations have dropped off, adoptions have dropped off, and people come out there, unload dogs and don’t leave anything when there is a charge.”
Wright said he expected changes to be made to the Animal Rescue Foundation, the board that operates the facility. Recently, board president Wendy Scripps and treasurer Jennifer Dunaway resigned their positions.
Both attended the meeting Tuesday and said they would remain on the board at this time to help. Only one other board member out of five, Angela Pearson, attended.
“We need to get the board functioning,” Wright said. “When it comes to our attention that there are problems, we want to know why and we want to help them straighten them out.”
One of the problems the shelter faced was the loss of an on-call veterinarian to perform euthanasia for sick animals. Wright said two local veterinarians offered to assist the city and help with the shelter.
Also, the shelter no longer has drop-off kennels to leave animals after closing.
Employees from Greater Birmingham Humane Society removed nearly 200 animals from the shelter April 28. Since then, they have returned on three more occasions to, taking another 200 total.
City and shelter employees transported approximately 150 sick animals to Birmingham Monday in an open trailer to be euthanized. The animals were lodged in cages and carriers on the trailer.
Limbaugh said two cats died on the hour-long trip while being transported to the Humane Society. She described the two as near death before leaving the shelter and said they were the last loaded and the first unloaded because of their condition.
Greater Birmingham Humane Society executive director Jacqueline Meyer said illness and a lack of space caused the majority of the animals received to be euthanized at their facility.
Meyer also said she believed the animals needed to be moved in an air-conditioned vehicle.
Scripps said the board attempted to rent vans but could not find any that would allow them to transport animals. Wright said the shelter used the only option they had to transport.
“If we were going to get the animals up there, we had to use what we had available,” he said.
The day after they transported the animals, Limbaugh reported 28 more were brought to the shelter. Scripps said the board was looking into any available grants or other funding to help with spaying and neutering animals in the area.
“That’s something that’s on my checklist to do, to see if there’s something to be done that would be beneficial to Sylacauga,” she said. “It was brought up at the meeting that maybe people aren’t seeing exactly the sheer volume of animals that we bring in.”
Wright also asked area residents to do their part in helping control the pet population.
“If I can get one thing across, it’s that people need to be responsible and spay or neuter their animals,” he said. “This has got to be done.”
Donation drives were scheduled to help raise money and supplies for the animal shelter. Scripps said volunteers planned to be at Wal-Mart on U.S. 280 July 10 and Piggly Wiggly on Alabama 21 North July 24 accepting donations for the shelter. The board also planned to reschedule a fundraising effort with Blue Bell Creameries that was cancelled last month due to rain.
People who wish to donate can send checks made to Animal Rescue Foundation to 41 Shelter Lane, Sylacauga, Ala. 35151.
Scripps said people can bring supplies directly to the shelter as well.
“Monetary donations are wonderful and we greatly appreciate them,” she said. “But what we are doing with that money is turning around and buying animal supplies and cleaning supplies. So it’s just as wonderful to get a bag of dog food.”