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City of Newton, Humane Society partner to encourage responsible pet ownership

City of Newton, Humane Society partner to encourage responsible pet ownership

NEWTON, NC (February 23, 2012) – The City of Newton is pleased to announce an enhanced partnership with the Humane Society of Catawba County (HSCC) as the two organizations are teaming up to increase awareness and education about pet ownership and controlling the pet population.

City officials met with the Humane Society on Feb. 22 to develop a plan that would encourage and increase responsibility among pet owners, and stress the importance of controlling the pet population through a spay/neuter program. The City is working together with the Humane Society to sponsor a local spay/neuter clinic, a rabies clinic, and more.

This collaboration is the result of a recent issue with the capture of a number of feral cats in Newton, according to City Manager Todd Clark. “Staff and citizens have observed a large number of feral cats throughout the City. As a result, animal control has captured a number of cats that were apparently homeless,” Clark stated. “The City of Newton is doing what is in the best interests of our citizens to protect their health, safety, and welfare. I believe that our partnership with the Humane Society will help us avoid similar issues in the future.”

Newton Mayor Anne P. Stedman said she also believes the partnership will achieve the mutual goal of protecting citizens and pets. “I’m excited that the City is partnering with the Humane Society, as we are working together as a community to educate pet owners and to encourage responsibility. I look forward to some upcoming clinics in cooperation with the Humane Society that will help control our pet population.”

Jane Bowers, Executive Director of the local Humane Society, said she looks forward to becoming more involved in the Newton community. “The Humane Society of Catawba County is excited to form this partnership with the City of Newton to address the pet over-population in the community,” Bowers said. “It is important to have your pets spayed or neutered, not just for reducing the pet population, which is a significant concern, but also for the health of our pets. Animals that have not been sterilized run increased chances of cancer and other health issues.”

Bowers also emphasized that the Foothills Spay/Neuter Clinic at HSCC offers low-cost surgeries every week, available to all pet owners in the community.

According to Newton Chief of Police Don Brown, the Newton Police Department employs one animal control officer, who responds to calls with the city limits. Animals that are captured or surrendered are taken to the Catawba County Animal Shelter. In 2010, the City’s animal control officer turned in 263 dogs and cats, while the public surrendered 465 animals, for a total of 728. In 2011, the City’s animal control officer turned in 240 dogs and cats, while the public surrendered 469 animals, for a total of 709.

Chief Brown said that animal control in the City of Newton totals $81,484 annually, which includes $36,736 to Catawba County for use of its animal shelter and $44,748 for the City’s animal control officer and vehicle operation.

Chief Brown said he realizes the importance of pets, but must consider the best interests of the citizens. “The City and its Police Department has an obligation to the health, safety, and welfare of our citizens as we abide by City ordinances and policies. However, we can work with the Humane Society to help us educate the community about becoming more responsible pet owners and controlling the pet population.”

Chief Brown encourages local pet owners to put the animal’s rabies tag on its collar which will allow the animal control officer to identify the animal’s owner. “If the animal has the rabies tag, we can identify and contact the owner to avoid transporting the animal to the shelter. This tag alone can help us avoid trapping and transporting someone’s personal pet if they are properly tagged and identified.”

The Humane Society of Catawba County is located at 3224 20th Avenue SE in Hickory. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m. For more information, call (828) 464-8878 or visit www.catawbahumane.org.