St. Louis County’s plan to reduce number of euthanized pets at shelters

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OLIVETTE, MO (KPLR) – St. Louis County thinks it has found a way to dramatically reduce the number of dogs and cats euthanized every year at its shelter. What is different about this approach? And how much will it cost?

Five years ago, 70 percent of the dogs and cats brought to the county’s animal shelter were put to sleep. Last year, that number dropped to 38 percent. But St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger believes that number is still too high.

“I have a soft spot in my heart for animals,” he said.

That’s why Stenger is trying something new – an animal care and control advisory board, made up of 17 people from shelters and rescue groups, plus veterinarians and cops, working toward increasing adoptions, decreasing euthanization, and a lot more spaying and neutering.

But what will all that cost?

“I think we will actually save money because we are not going to be euthanizing 50 percent of our animals,” Stenger said.

Where are all those extra animals going to go?

“I think they will be adopted out, and that’s the goal,” he said.

Another of Stenger’s goals is to improve how the county markets its adoption program, but advertising is not free. That’s where having board members with connections comes in.

“We will try to negotiate it by bringing together talent treasure and time from all the agencies around the table as opposed to trying to do it ourselves. One: we don’t do it well and two: we don’t have the money to do it ourselves.”

The St. Louis County Animal Control Center has already reduced euthanizing feral cats by 60 percent in less than a year by trapping, neutering, and returning them to the city streets. That way they can help keep the rodent population down without increasing the cat population.

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