Decatur Animal Services Update: Donations are up, but live release rate is down

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DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – It’s been five months since there was a change in leadership of Decatur Animal Services (DAS).

The staff believes things are going smoothly and improving for the animals.

WHNT NEWS 19 stopped by to check the statistics and found a mixed bag in how abandoned or unwanted animals are fairing in the River City.

We ran into four-year-old Luke Hicks of Hartselle who found his new best friend, Raven, at DAS.  She’s a two-month-old hound mix brought to the shelter as a stray.

Wednesday seemed to be a busy day for staff there, taking donations, and showing potential adopters the animals.

Executive Director Danny Melson is pleased with the facility and their new partnership with PetSmart of Decatur.

“We do an adopt-a-thon down there like every two or three months, but we have cats down there all the time,” said Melson.

He replaced former Executive Director Carol Wicks who was fired from the job last September.

Since then, Melson says they’ve put up a new sign outside, donations are up and the small dog kennels are always empty from adoptions.

But not everyone makes it out alive.

As for the numbers at DAS, the live release rate — the number of animals that are adopted out or returned to their owners — is down from a year ago.  Melson said in 2013, it was 60 percent.  In 2014, it was down to 50 percent.  But then again, DAS does not claim to be a no-kill shelter.

“We haven’t had to put anything down that’s adoptable,” said Melson.

Statistics show the shelter took in 2,900 animals in 2013 and around 2,600 animals in 2014.

Staff members are trying to adjust schedules to allow animal control officers to do more work on the streets enforcing ordinances.

City leaders have discussed having the police department take over the shelter.

“For one thing, it would guarantee that we could get animal services out on the weekend,” said Gary Hammon, Decatur City Council President.

“I wouldn’t have a problem with that,” said Melson.  “It works in other cities and we are a public safety department anyway.”

But it’s just an idea.

For now, Melson and his staff are trying to help all animals that come to them, since they don’t turn any away.

He added that his staff and volunteers adopted out 43 cats and 56 dogs in December.  So far in January, they’ve adopted out 31 dogs and 26 cats.

The city also just got permission to allow an inmate to assist the staff as well.