ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Keeping control of animal overpopulation is not an easy job. Just ask any animal control center in our area. But when it comes to how many animals are euthanized, versus how many animals are taken in, St. Johns County's numbers are higher than most.
So far this year, the St. Johns County Pet Center has taken in 4,470 strays. Of those strays, Action News has learned almost 1,600 of them have been adopted. And more than 2,800 of them have been put down.
Rick DuCharme with First Coast No More Homeless Pets says that's a little high, when compared to other counties. "There's just got to be a better solution than killing them. Not has to be, I think there is a better solution."
St. Johns County's euthanasia rate is around 64 percent. Compare that to Duval County's rate at 28 percent. DuCharme says a feral cat program established in Duval is what helped get that number so low. "We were able to decrease euthanasia, just with that one program, by 25 percent in Duval County. And I believe a program like that in St. Johns County would have a similar impact, or even a greater impact, than what it did in Duval County."
Action News asked St. Johns County why its euthanasia rate is so high. The Communications Manager released a statement to us, saying the adoption of healthy pets is one of its highest priorities, but so is public safety. The county won't release sick or aggressive animals. The statement read, "Balancing these goals remains one of our most difficult challenges, but we continue to evaluate the program for new and innovative means in which to increase our adoption rates."
"There's always options," DuCharme said. "Sometimes the options don't work quick. And rarely are they ever as easy as euthanasia. But there's always options."
The St. Johns County Pet Center has changed its hours, so it can be open for more field calls and adoptions. Prices for adoptions start at $30. To learn more about it, visit www.co.st-johns.fl.us/AnimalControl/PetCenter.aspx