Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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June 26, 2013

Cats at Mercer County Animal Shelter could face euthanasia by 6 p.m. today

PRINCETON — If permanent homes or foster homes cannot be found by 6 p.m. today for more than 60 cats at the Mercer County Animal Shelter, they could face euthanasia.

The shelter had 65 cats as of Tuesday afternoon. An upper respiratory infection among the felines is forcing the shelter’s personnel to find other places for them before the cat area can be thoroughly disinfected, said County Commissioner Gene Buckner. The shelter’s cages and kennels are always full.

Buckner said he has worked with the shelter for six months, and he has never known a time when the population is down “to the point of being comfortable.”

“Our problem at the shelter is we stay crowded,” Buckner said as dogs barked in the background. “We stay overloaded all of the time.”

One factor keeping the shelter full is the overflow from no-kill animal shelters in neighboring counties, Buckner said. When those shelters come full, dogs and cats are brought to Mercer County’s facility.

“We’re taking three shelters’ animals, and it’s keeping us to the point where we can’t operate efficiently,” Buckner said.

When the shelter must house 180 or even 190 animals, the personnel must turn to euthanasia when not enough of the dogs and cats are adopted or accepted by rescue organizations, he said.

“And then we catch a lot of flack from people who don’t understand why this is happening,” Buckner stated. “I’m afraid what we’re facing is we’re about to euthanize cats. That’s a last resort,” he said. “And I hope people understand. We’re not here to euthanize animals. These no-kill shelters are forcing us to do that.”

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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