Ohio surveys shelter operations and needs
What's really going on in Ohio shelters?
- humane societies euthanized 61 percent of the dogs entering their facilities, five percent more than county animal control agencies and 5.5 percent more than the national figures;
- only 15 percent of humane societies sterilize all dogs before adoption; and
- only three percent of county animal control agencies implant adopted dogs with the sure-fire identification of microchips.
The research team of Thomas E. Wittum PhD and Linda K. Lord BS sent surveys to 222 entities in three categories: county animal control agencies, humane societies, and municipal animal control agencies. 180 agencies responded although not all answered all the questions.
Six counties — Harrison, Pike, Hardin, Union, Clark, and Brown — are not represented in the results because no agency returned the surveys.
Each of Ohio's 88 counties is required by law to have an animal control agency. Most counties also have at least one humane society, and many cities have their own animal control division. Some humane societies are independent of animal control agencies, some lease kennel space to the county, and some operate the county's animal control program under contract.
The primary job of city and county animal control agencies is to enforce the state and local dog laws, including licensing, running-at-large, and nuisance ordinances. The primary purpose of humane societies is to provide shelter for animals that have no home or are mistreated.
Although all 220 agencies did not respond to the survey, the team extrapolated numbers from those that did respond to present a picture of the state's animal control problem. Here's what they found.
County animal control agencies handled
- 109,854 stray dogs,
- 18,412 dogs surrendered by their owners,
- 235 dogs on cruelty complaints,
- 2699 dogs from agencies that have no impoundment facilities.
- Total: 131,333 dogs.
Of these numbers,
- 20,072 (17 percent) were adopted,
- 19,562 (17 percent) were reclaimed by their owners,
- 65,790 (56 percent) were euthanized
- 11,021 were transferred to other agencies.
Humane societies took in
- 6225 stray dogs,
- 35,397 dogs from their owners,
- 1599 dogs in cruelty cases, and
- 12,873 dogs from other agencies.
- Total: 56,615 dogs.
Of these numbers,
- 23,480 were adopted (33 percent),
- 3388 (5 percent) were reclaimed by their owners,
- 42,593 (61 percent) were euthanized,
- 286 were transferred to other agencies.
Municipal animal control divisions handled
- 10,892 stray dogs,
- 429 dogs from the owners,
- 51 dogs in cruelty cases, and
- 7 dogs from other agencies.
Of these numbers,
- 1009 ( nine percent) were adopted,
- 2998 (26 percent) were reclaimed by owners,
- 3539 (31 percent) were euthanized, and
- 3743 (33 percent) were transferred to other agencies.
The totals for the state were:
- stray dogs, 141,791 (66 percent of the shelter population);
- owner surrenders, 68,983 (32 percent);
- cruelty and neglect cases, 2503 (one percent), and
- other, 866 (four tenths of one percent).
- Total dogs entering shelters: 214,143
The total dispositions for the state were:
- adoptions, 51,662 (24 percent);
- reclaims, 29,302 (14 percent);
- euthanasias, 128,637 (61 percent); and
- other, 1745 (one percent).
Adoptions and reclaims are slightly less than the national figures of 26 percent and 17 percent reported by CSU, and euthanasias are a bit more than five percent higher.
More for the picture
- The report put the number of dogs in Ohio at 2,166,000. According to the figures, about 10 percent of these dogs come in contact with an animal control agency or a humane society during a year.
- County dog wardens handled more than 200,000 complaints and issued 19,144 citations to dog owners in 1996, slightly more than half for failure to license the dog and 44 percent for dog running at large. Municipal animal control agents added to the total, bringing the number of citations for failure to license to 8011 and those for dogs running at large to 7975.
- More than 140,000 dogs entered shelters as strays — unlicensed dogs running at large.
- Thirty-nine percent of county shelters scan incoming dogs for microchips, but only three percent implant chips in adopted or reclaimed dogs.
- Fifty percent of municipal agencies scan, but none do implants.
- Humane societies do better; 56 percent scan and eight percent implant.
- Spay and neuter programs are a bit uneven in the state. Although most shelters have a spay and neuter policy, only six percent of county shelters and 15 percent of humane societies spay and neuter all dogs before adoption. Sixty-five percent of country shelters and 42 percent of humane societies use certificates redeemable through veterinary clinics. The remainder use a combination of pre-adoption surgery for some dogs and certificates for others.
- Municipal animal shelters are the leaders in spay and neuter before adoption; 30 percent of adopted dogs are spayed before leaving the city animal control facilities.
Animal control needs
Although there was some difference between types of agencies, the following needs were considered very important by a majority of those reporting:
- Improved legislation for animal laws, 63 percent
- Increased funding, 58 percent
- Facility improvements, 51 percent
- Education for agency personnel, 44 percent,
- Public relations support 40 percent.
- veterinary services, 40 percent.
The report covers far more detail than included here. It is available from
The OSU College of Veterinary Medicine,
Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine
1900 Coffey Road
Columbus, OH 43210-1092
For more information, call (614) 292-1206.
Norma Bennett Woolf