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WASTE WATCH: Escambia County Animal Shelter moves closer to "no kill"
Thousands of discarded and lost pets are killed in Escambia County each year.
But the push is on to reduce the alarming euthanasia rate as Escambia works to become a 'no kill' county.
What that could mean for your tax dollars.
One of the services offered by local government is the Escambia County Animal Shelter.
Animal services makes sure that our local animal population is under control and taken care of.
After a recent rash of incidents at the animal shelter, they are bringing in an outside group to try to make the process better, and to make sure our tax dollars are being used efficiently.
We know about the mistakes, the apologies and the calls for change.
"Having a good animal shelter that not only maybe goes out in the field and advises people etc., caring for dogs etc., and taking stray dogs and maybe protecting them. And getting them out to other families that may take better care of them than they were taken care of is very, very important."
Richard Irwin has two dogs right now.
He's owned several through the years rescuing and adopting dogs others didn't want.
But there aren't enough Richard Irwins.
Things have improved in recent years but the numbers tell us that only 40-percent of the animals that come into the county shelter make it out alive.
"We've made great progress in reducing the amount of euthana that we've been doing out there. What we need them to help us with too, what I'd like to see, is helping us with increasing our adoptions."
"Part of the issue is intake and size, and certainly the more we can do with spay and neutering that is going to help."
Escambia County is working with the Target Zero Institute from Jacksonville, a group helps reduce the number of euthanized animals.
Last year, animal services spent 832,000 dollars. They brought in 776,000 leaving about 56,000 dollars of deficit. Less than 7 percent of the annual cost.
Target Zero will analyze the shelter's operations and come back with recommendations on how to move towards a "no kill", or 90-percent release rate within three years.
Some of those recommendations could cost more tax payer money but TZI would also help the county find outside sources to pay for needed improvements...
"One of the things that Target Zero is going to do is look at grants across the nation. So we would certainly be agreeable to looking at some of those grants as well." "Clearly, I believe user fees will be a way that we will evaluate that, but there's always a cap at which we can go."
Another option is to pass along the increase to users.
"We increased the fee for the rabies shot two dollars. That's really allowed us to go out and do the vets, to do the programs we've done."
"I think a no kill animal shelter is extremely important, if possible. Of course that may have some financial limitations to it also, but I think it's very important."
There is a Town Hall meeting on the Target Zero program at the county Public Safety Building on North W street, it starts at six o'clock on the 10th.
February 11th there's an Adoption Day at the animal shelter. That starts at 10 am.