SHINNSTON — As the new director of Harrison County Animal Control, Cheryl Shaw finds it important to significantly curtail the euthanization of area animals.
According to Shaw, the local center has accepted 2,447 animals so far this year, with 1,717 of them, or about 70 percent, being euthanized.
In 2011, the center euthanized 2,399 out of 3,184 animals, or nearly 75 percent.
“To put that amount of animals down is crazy,” Shaw said. “There are so many wonderful animals here that deserve homes and don’t deserve to end up going out the back door instead of the front door.”
Commissioner Ron Watson said the county is mandated by state statutes to control the local animal population. But he also says the animals are euthanized in the most humane way as possible.
“We give those animals all the TLC and compassion that we can to begin with, and when the day comes for their number to be called, we have to do what we have to do,” he said. “It’s saddening to me ... but what can we do?”
According to Shaw, most euthanizations are the result of illnesses, behavioral issues or a lack of space.
“Overpopulation is definitely a big problem here and everywhere,” Shaw said.
To help decrease the number of euthanizations, Shaw said she is working with the local Humane Society to educate the public on the importance of spaying or neutering pets. She also is trying to reduce the amount of backyard breeding in the county.
Most of the animals that are dropped off at the center are either strays or surrendered by their owners, Shaw added.
Shaw said another one of her top priorities is to encourage local residents to keep their pets inside their homes.
“There are so many dangers out there ... they can get hit by a car, they can get attacked by wild animals, that type of thing,” she said.
Shaw was selected as the new animal control director out of approximately 30 applicants, according to M.L. Quinn, county director of grants and special projects.
Quinn, who sat on the interview committee that recommended the hiring, said Shaw distinguished herself from the rest of the field because of her experience.
Most recently, Shaw was a Humane Society police officer in Chester County, Pa., for 13 years. She graduated from the Police Academy in Delaware County, Pa., in 1992 and worked for many years at an animal shelter in Montgomery County, Pa.
“Her experience is what sticks out,” Quinn said.
Watson added that he also was impressed with Shaw’s ability to interact with people and animals.
Shaw is replacing Suzette Modispaugh, who retired in September after working for the agency for 21 years.
Shaw is being paid an annual salary of $40,000, according to Watson.