Huntsville Animal Services posts record-high live release rate for October

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Huntsville Animal Services posted its highest live release rate last month at 96 percent. The October figure represents the shelter’s success in placing homeless pets with families through adoptions and fosters and in reuniting lost animals with owners.

The live release numbers for 2015, from January 1 through October 31, have also been strong. Nearly 90 percent of animals entering the shelter have been saved. This is a remarkable turnaround for a facility that, seven years ago, was euthanizing about 75 percent of the animals surrendered by owners or turned in as strays.

“Our Animal Shelter has worked hard to turn around this facility into a place whose primary goal is to save the life of all healthy and treatable pets,” said Dr. Karen Sheppard, Director of Animal Services. “It has been a team effort and our success would not be possible without our dedicated community partners and volunteers.”

Huntsville Animal Services  achieved a record live release rate for the month of October. (Christine Killimayer, WHNT News 19)

Huntsville Animal Services achieved a record live release rate for the month of October. (Christine Killimayer, WHNT News 19)

Dr. Sheppard says the transformation has been steady and rewarding thanks to a focus on programs and policy changes that create the greatest life-saving capacities.

“Our first major shift came seven years ago with the start of a low-income spay & neuter assistance program,” said Dr. Sheppard. “This investment helped reduce the annual intake from an all-time high of 10,000 dogs and cats in 2008 to 5,331 in 2014, and now to 4,478 for 2015.

The City credits local organizations like A New Leash on Life, Forgotten Felines, Greater Huntsville Humane Society, Friends of Rescue, SNAP, and other local rescues for their assistance in helping with adoption events, spay and neuter programs, and in securing fosters for animals who have not been fortunate to find homes.

“There is no way to overstate the amount of work, compassion, and emotion that goes into saving the lives of these animals,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “As wonderful as these numbers are today, it can only take 24 hours for the shelter to go from zero animals to full. We need the commitment of every resident in Huntsville-Madison County to spay and neuter their pets and to support responsible pet ownership.”

Animal Services recognizes that the only real, sustainable and humane way to end euthanasia of healthy animals is to cut off the supply of homeless animals. This entails working at the root of the challenge by spaying and neutering, offering behavior counseling for pet owners, and providing humane education and guidance for both children and adults.

Huntsville Animal Services is located at 4950 Triana Boulevard, and they are open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9-5, on Tuesday from 9-6, and on Saturday from 9-3.

The City of Huntsville contributed to this report.