Why animal shelters sometimes must say 'no'

Published: Sep. 26, 2019 at 5:13 PM EDT
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The only animal shelter in Clinton County is trying to fend off online criticism and a call to end its funding. Last weekend, the shelter declined to take in kittens that were left on the side of the road and some people are not happy. Our Kelly O'Brien spoke with shelter organizers about why they made that decision and what losing funding would do.

"The people who work here, like I said in the beginning, they are rock stars. We take a beating," said Rebecca Burdo, the manager of Elmore SPCA.

Burdo was emotional speaking about her job and some of the struggles the shelter goes through, like saying no to stray animals like they had to this weekend.

"If we say no to you, it's because we said yes to other people," Burdo explained.

In the post, a Facebook user called for residents to stop funding the shelter. But Burdo said without the funding, it could mean closing the doors.

"The funding people give us-- that does allow us to stay open," she said.

The reason the shelter had to say no to taking in the three kittens found on the side of the road is because the shelter is at capacity and they couldn't responsibly take the cats in if it meant it could harm them or the other cats in their colony.

"I think people think we just take in these pets and put them in our colony and hope for the best and that's not true," Burdo said.

Elmore SPCA is a small shelter and the only one in Clinton County.

"We have to say no sometimes," Burdo said. "If we didn't we would be irresponsible."

They have protocols when it comes to taking in each feline because they can only hold between 20 and 30 cats depending on size and health.

"When we start taking on more than we can really house, then you start to see the quality of care go down for the animals," Burdo said.

They need to look at the cat's temperament. Is it ill? Will it get the current colony ill? Can the cat be around people? Can it be adopted?

So far, the shelter has helped more than 150 cats this year.

"These animals aren't staying here long," Burdo said. "They get adopted, which means they get adopted quicker because they are healthier, they're happier, they're engaging, they get adopted and that allows us to bring more in."

The shelter said they provide options for the animals they can't take in, whether it be to recommend another shelter in another county, to put the animals on a waiting list or sign them up for their discounted programs to spay and neuter the animals.