Angels for Animals partnership ties with dog neutering program

Mahoning will be only the sixth county in Ohio to launch such a program.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County is putting its own stamp on a spay-and-neuter program that has dramatically reduced the stray dog population in Columbiana County.
In the next few weeks, county commissioners are expected to approve a memorandum of understanding with Angels for Animals, a nonprofit agency in Beaver Township.
Under the plan, dogs that are adopted from the county pound will be taken to a veterinarian for sterilization before they are released to their new owners. At least three veterinarians have agreed to reduce their fees on spaying and neutering dogs from the pound. People who adopt dogs may choose which veterinarian to use and pick up their pets at the vet's office.
If a problem arises, "We would be the fallback," said Diane Less Baird, developmental director of Angels for Animals. For example, in the event of a failed adoption, her agency will pay the veterinarian's fee and take in the dog, she said.
Baird thinks everyone wins in this program. Pound fees are paid in advance, which encourages people to follow through with adoptions. Mahoning County charges from $40 to $50 per adoption, which includes a required dog license and first shot, county dog warden Mike Fox said.
Veterinarians receive their fees directly, which avoids additional bookkeeping and allows them to cultivate new clients, Baird said. Fewer dogs are euthanized for lack of ownership, and dog reproduction is reduced.
Mahoning is only the sixth county in Ohio to launch such a program, Baird said.
Columbiana County, which was criticized for euthanizing dogs in a gas chamber, entered a partnership with Angels for Animals two years ago. Angels for Animals now pays for transportation of dogs to veterinarian offices and for sterilization.
According to figures provided by Baird, more than 50 percent of dogs in Columbiana County's pound in 2003 were killed. In 2005, less than 10 percent of dogs were put down while adoptions more than doubled. Baird thinks people are more interested in adopting dogs that have already been spayed or neutered.
Because of illness, injury or aggression, Baird said, some dogs cannot be saved.
The numbers
Mahoning County took in more than 1,876 dogs last year, completed about 539 adoptions and returned 246 dogs to their owners, Fox said. Of 1,271 dogs that were put to sleep, 320 occurred at the owners' request, he said.
"We need to quit euthanizing so many beautiful animals we have down there and find them homes," Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti said.
Mahoning County also is establishing a new internship with Youngstown State University, Traficanti said. A student will receive $400 per semester to take photos of dogs at the pound and post them on the county's Web site. That's for the benefit of adoptions as well as owners searching for lost dogs, he said.

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