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SPCA, animal control work to help dogs
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Melanie Landquist, an animal care specialist, plays with a female pit bull mix, one of several dogs brought to the SPCA by Henry County Animal Control officers Tuesday. The dogs were taken from their previous owners, kept at the county’s pound and brought to the SPCA, which will try to find homes for them. Full story, Page 8-C. (Bulletin photo)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

By DREW EARY - Bulletin Staff Writer

After being held for a week, and for some two weeks, at the Henry County Pound on Refuse Road, five allegedly abused dogs were brought to the Martinsville-Henry County SPCA by Henry County Animal Control officers on Tuesday.

The SPCA often works with animal control officers from both Henry County and Martinsville to try to find homes for homeless dogs, officials said.

"We found these dogs in Bassett," said Deputy Chris Price, one of Henry County's two deputies in the animal control unit.

The dogs, a group of mixed dogs of varying ages and genders, allegedly were being starved, and a judge ordered the county to take possession of them, he added. Price said he could not elaborate on the case because it is being dealt with in court.

"We want to find them a good home," he said of the dogs. "And they do a good job of that over here (at the SPCA)."�

Virginia State law requires that animals be held for at least five days by animal control personnel if they do not have any kind of collar or identification. If animals do have a collar or identification, they must be held for 10 days, he said.

"After that they are the property of the county and either euthanized or put up for adoption," Price said.

According to Price, about 60 percent of dogs that are found are strays without any identification or a collar.

The five dogs, who had not been given names, were removed from the county's pound Tuesday and rushed into the SPCA building on Joseph Martin Highway to be washed and fed.

"We work with the SPCA on a regular basis," Price said. "I wouldn't call it a monthly or weekly basis; it's very regular."�

Martinsville City Animal Control Officer Mark Peters said his office also works with the SPCA.

"I'm new, but since I have been here, all of the animals that we have had that I have thought to be adoptable have been sent to the SPCA," he said.

According to Leslie Hervey, executive director of the SPCA, her organization has a long-running relationship with city and county animal control offices.

"These guys are police officers. They are always out investigating things in the county, and this is a big county," she said. "We do not do any investigative work. We work towards spaying and neutering these animals and trying to find them homes. Basically, they do the tough stuff and we do the warm and fuzzy stuff."�

Hervey said when the SPCA receives calls about abused animals, it alerts Henry County Animal Control officers.

"We have a working relationship and try to help each other out as much as possible," she said. "We let them know when and where they can help, and they try to find dogs that we call "˜adoptable' and bring them to us."�

The SPCA's definition of an adoptable animal is one that is not aggressive, is healthy and gets along well with people.

According to SPCA records, the current mortality rate for animals that either die in the SPCA facility or who are euthanized is 49 percent.

"That's down from a high of 87 percent several years ago," Hervey said.

Hervey said the lower mortality rate is due to increased adoption rates at the SPCA.

So far this year, the SPCA has found homes for 836 animals from January to June. Last year, the SPCA found homes for 1,725, a number that Hervey does not think it will have any problem surpassing this year.

The dogs that were brought to the SPCA by animal control officers on Tuesday will not be eligible for adoption for the next few weeks, said Donna Belcher, site manager at the SPCA.

"We are going to hold them and try to get a little weight on them, then have them spayed or neutered," she said. "While we have them there we will also test them for heart worms and that kind of thing. After that they should be eligible for adoption."�


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