Stray pets could face death

en chain-link cages line one side of the drab, windowless cement room. A shiny black dog leaps up, bouncing its paws on the fence.

en chain-link cages line one side of the drab, windowless cement room.

A shiny black dog leaps up, bouncing its paws on the fence.

It may not seem like it, but this dog is lucky.

It was the day after the vet’s weekly euthanasia visit to Whitehorse’s Animal Control Shelter, and the dog was still alive.

“The absolute minimum we wait before euthanising an animal is 48 hours,” said senior bylaw officer Dave Pruden.

“It’s just a matter of timing.”

The shelter euthanises animals on Wednesdays. So, if an animal arrives at the shelter on Sunday night, it will be euthanised before an animal arriving on a Thursday, he explained.

The shelter killed 59 of the 240 dogs impounded last year and 31 of the 67 cats.

“These numbers have dropped significantly since the Mae Bachur (Animal Shelter) opened,” said Pruden.

“Because we do work with them in trying to circulate good animals back out there — and what determines a good animal is just our interactions with it and whatever complaints or investigations we’ve had with that animal in the past.”

The other determining factor is how full the Animal Control shelter already is and how full the Mae Bachur shelter is.

“And this is really beyond our control,” said Pruden.

Last year Animal Control was able to turn 36 dogs and 12 cats over to the Mae Bachur shelter, which doesn’t euthanise its animals, except in very unusual circumstances.

“So about one-third of the animals impounded either get euthanised or go to Mae Bachur,” he said.

The trouble is, very few prospective pet owners visit the Animal Control Shelter.

“We’re not there as an adoption agency,” said Pruden.

“But, it wouldn’t hurt for us to put out more ads in the city page saying you can check out the city of Whitehorse Animal Shelter to adopt out animals.”

Mae Bachur sometimes sends people over, he said.

While Mae Bachur dog adoptions cost $160, Animal Shelter adoptions can be as low as $60.

The adoption rates depends on how long the dog has been at the shelter and whether it has been impounded before.

Animal Control would much rather see unclaimed animals adopted than euthanised.

“No officer likes to put down dogs — we all own dogs, and/or cats,” said Pruden.

“Nobody likes putting down an animal, because you impound it and then sometimes the animal is in there a week.

“And sometimes it’s in there two weeks, because you get hold of an owner and you get the story, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m coming down to get it tomorrow,’ and tomorrow never seems to come.

“So we end up holding onto the animal for a few weeks. You get to know it and build a relationship and then two weeks later you have to put the dog down.

“It’s a difficult job and I think mostly we try to put it at the back of our minds and try to forget about it because it’s not something that’s pleasurable.”

The Animal Control Shelter, located at 9032 Quartz Road, is open for adoptions from 4:30 to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday.