COLUMBIANA COUNTY Officials discuss plans to neuter, spay dogs

Commissioners are considering an incentive plan to ensure spaying or neutering is done.
LISBON -- Columbiana County officials are looking for ways to curb the stray-dog population by stopping the canines from reproducing.
To accomplish that goal, officials are considering a plan to require all dogs adopted from the county pound to be spayed or neutered, Commissioner President Jim Hoppel said Monday.
The pound now allows stray and unwanted dogs to be adopted without the animals' being rendered unable to reproduce.
Prospective owners pay a $15 adoption fee, which includes the $8 cost of a dog license, and are free to take the dog home.
The pound gives out a voucher from Angels for Animals, a Mahoning County-based animal charity agency. The voucher is for a free spaying or neutering for the adopted dog.
But the voucher system isn't being used enough to solve the problem of dogs' producing more offspring, Hoppel said.
That means more strays and unwanted dogs coming into the pound, which destroys animals that aren't adopted.
In 2002, 777 dogs were destroyed by gassing, and that's more than twice the number of dogs adopted last year from the pound, said Barb Derringer, dog warden.
What's proposed
Commissioners are pondering a procedure where people who adopt a dog from the pound would have to first put up the $70 to $80 it costs to spay or neuter a dog.
The new owners could then take the animal home. Once they have the spaying or neutering done, they would be reimbursed for a portion of the $70 to $80 they put down for the procedure, Hoppel explained.
If the procedure isn't done, the new owners would forfeit the money they put down.
County officials are still working out the plan's details, including how much to reimburse owners. The county prosecutor's office also is being consulted about the plan, Hoppel said.
It may be January 2004 before the new procedure is put in place.
Hoppel said he believes it will encourage spaying or neutering and reduce the overpopulation of stray and unwanted dogs.
He acknowledged, however, that the plan could backfire and discourage people from adopting dogs, which would increase the number being destroyed.
He argued, however, that even if fewer dogs were adopted, if the dogs that are adopted are kept from reproducing, it eventually would result in fewer dogs' coming to the pound. That would mean that fewer dogs would have to be gassed.

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