Dog Shelter Sees Plunge In Euthanasia Rates

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Todd Cummings has worked at the Jefferson County dog shelter since 1984.

As the supervising dog control officer, he says euthanizing dogs, though extremely hard to do, is part of the job.

But over the years, Cummings says the number of pups being put to sleep has dropped.

Consider 1984, when 1,615 were euthanized.

This year, 14 were put down - a record low for the shelter. 

"I don't know if we'll ever get lower than 14. That's an excellent number for this year," said Cummings.

Cummings says 30 years ago it was common for thousands of stray dogs to come through the shelter. 

But times have changed.

With the dog population declining over the years, so has euthanasia.

"Looking at the trend you can kind of see, in 2002 the trend started going down less than 100," said Cummings.

Why the drop?

Cummings says one reason is more dogs are being spayed and neutered.

"People are being more responsible pet owners. Licensing their dogs, tagging their dogs. And I think there's more law enforcement out there too as far as awareness from our department," said Cummings.

Adoptions have also increased.

The more dogs adopted, the fewer that have to be euthanized.

A two-year-old beagle, Jingles, might be the next one snatched up.

"She's just full of energy, but she's got that cuteness about her. Playful, and I am just looking for a smaller dog and she might end up being the one," said Ruth Hoose, who's hoping to adopt Jingles.

It's a second chance and a loving home for the dogs - that's all Todd Cummings can hope for.

Saturday, November 1, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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