The Beaufort County Animal Shelter will stop its adoption service for about two weeks while its policies and procedures are examined.
Tallulah Trice, who took over as shelter director about two weeks ago, said stray or relinquished animals will still be accepted, but adoptable pets will be sent to other organizations, such as the Hilton Head Humane Association.
The shelter aims to adjust its policies and education programs so that pets find the better matches and fewer owners return pets they have adopted, Trice said. That, in turn, should reduce the number of animals euthanized."There's a high return rate for animals in our area, so we're trying to implement a better application process to make sure it's a qualified individual or family wanting to adopt," Trice said. "Just today we got four returns. ... This is a regular occurrence right now."
Applications to adopt will be more detailed, and Trice said her department is holding meetings through the week to plan how to teach the public about the characteristics of breeds and preventing heartworm and disease.
Trice operated HAND, a Lowcountry animal rescue organization, before taking the her current job. As the new director she said the changes are long overdue.
"What we've done in the past hasn't been working," Trice said. "The number one reason we have to euthanize is for health or behavioral problems."
The shelter also will focus on improving the health of the nearly 60 animals currently its care, Trice said. Stray animals are quarantined for five days, and the stay of animals relinquished by their owners is determined on a case-by-case basis.
"Honestly, this whole thing will be a positive thing for Beaufort County," humane association director Franny Gerthoffer said, adding that her organization is "over the moon" to be working with Trice and the shelter to lower the rates of euthanasia and returns.
"You have to have something in place to make sure that everyone is taken care of -- the adopter and the animal," she said.
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