CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The new director of the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association Animal Shelter said the facility is making good progress in its goal to save as many animals as possible from euthanasia.
"We want to be as 'no-kill' as possible, when we can do that and be financially and ethically responsible," said shelter director Chelsea Staley. "We haven't euthanized any dogs at all because of space limitations since I've been here."
Since Staley took over as shelter director Sept. 1, 33 dogs have been put down at the animal shelter, she said. All have been too sick to treat or too old, with major health problems.
"If they were at your house, you'd have them euthanized," she said.
In comparison, 90 dogs were euthanized in September 2012, and 27 in October 2012, Staley said.
Early this summer, a faction of the humane association's board of directors, led by the animal-rescue group Dog Bless, swept board elections, prompting several board members and former animal shelter director Donna Clark to resign. The new board favors a policy of saving as many animals as possible.
So far, Staley said, it seems to be working. Through treating sick animals before they get into the larger shelter population, paying closer attention to the animals that are in the shelter and sending animals to temporary foster homes and out-of-state rescue groups, she said, the shelter is on its way to its goal of putting down only those animals that are truly suffering or have untreatable medical conditions.
"I'm confident we have dogs under control," Staley said. "Now we need to do the same thing for cats."
Staley, who co-founded Dog Bless, said the shelter now has a network of about 250 foster families to temporarily host dogs awaiting adoption. The shelter also is connected with dog-rescue groups in other states.
"I come from the dog-rescue world," Staley said. "I'm pretty well connected with dogs. But we need lots of help with cats.
"Historically, cats have been kind of second-class citizens at the shelter," Staley said. But shelter staff members are changing their policies so that cats get the same kind of care and attention that dogs do.