The city is not picking up any more animals, said Heflin City Clerk Shane Smith. The city has had so many puppies dumped in its small kennel over the last month, it can’t take any more, he said.
The city received 38 puppies and four adult dogs so far this month, said Heflin Code Enforcement Officer William Chapman, who also takes care of animal control. The department was able to return the four adult dogs to their owners and it adopted out 10 puppies in the last two weeks, Chapman said. The other puppies were taken to the Calhoun County Animal Control, he said Monday as he was on his way to drop off the last 12 puppies.
That’s a record for animal control, Smith said. Last year, the city picked up 293 animals and took 204 to Calhoun County, he said, adding that’s an average of 17 per month.
The city pays $500 per month to partner with Calhoun County, Smith said. Although, there is no set limit of animals mentioned in the contract, Smith was worried the large number of puppies would overload the shelter.
He started contacting rescue groups last week to see if they could take some of the puppies.
“They’re flooded with animals,” Smith said.
One of the groups he contacted, Semper Fi Rescue, has seven foster homes and all are filled to capacity said Lisa Wippler, who founded the group with her husband, John Wippler.
Lisa said puppies are always hard to adopt out in this area.
“Locally, we’re so super- saturated with puppies, it’s almost impossible to place them,” she said.
She blames it on the lack of spay-and-neuter laws. She and her husband moved to the area from California in 2007 and were surprised by the number of animals in shelters. In their former home, residents were required to register their pets annually, paying about $7 for animals spayed or neutered or $70 for those that were not, she said. Spaying or neutering pets weren’t required, Wippler said, but the fees motivated residents to have the procedures done.
Here, there is no such motivation, she said. Still, her rescue will arrange care for the animals including spaying or neutering and offer them for adoption for $150, often less than the amount she paid. But it’s hard to talk people into adopting when they can pick up free puppies in local store parking lots and decline the veterinary services.
“People around here don’t want to pay an adoption fee,” Wippler said. “They just don’t value those kinds of things.”
In Heflin, that attitude has led to animals being dropped off in the kennel, sometimes without Chapman’s knowledge and often without knowing whether they came from within the city, Smith said.
Heflin has a chain-link kennel with two plastic dog houses in it behind City Hall near the Police Department. It was never intended to shelter dogs for days, Smith said.
Heflin officials started the animal control program to pick up stray animals that were bothering people in town, he said. It was not meant as a place where people could drop off unwanted puppies, he said. But on a recent Monday morning, there were 12 puppies in the kennel.
Smith said the council is scheduled to appoint members to a board that will offer guidance in running the program. The council members have offered a diverse group candidates, he said.
“It’s ranging from private citizens to forest service people, a rescue organization to veterinarians,” Smith said.
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.