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SPCA to review euthanasia policy

LARGO — The SPCA Tampa Bay will review its euthanasia policies in the wake of a St. Petersburg Times story that showed that about half the animals taken there do not make it out alive.

The animal shelter has also changed its Web site to state prominently, "We are not a no-kill shelter."

In an "open letter to the public" that was e-mailed to supporters Friday night, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' board of directors said it would "take immediate action" to allay fears or concerns of employees, volunteers and the community, including:

• An immediate review of the shelter's policies and procedures "to ensure the proper use of euthanasia."

• A review of how the shelter keeps track of how many animals come in, how many are adopted and how many are euthanized.

"It is apparent that the euthanasia figures are not public, nor readily accessible," the e-mail said. "The board plans to take immediate steps to accurately publicize the euthanasia numbers to better inform all concerned parties."

• Training for staff members and volunteers "in order to more effectively communicate the SPCA's euthanasia policy."

The board will hold an open forum at 6 p.m. Monday.

The Times story, published Friday, examined an organization that for decades has taken in injured strays and pets that people give up. Owners are assured that the shelter will make every effort to find the animals new homes. Among some people, the SPCA even enjoyed a reputation as a "no-kill" shelter, although SPCA officials never made that claim.

The shelter euthanizes about half of the animals it takes in, including kittens under 2 months old, cats that don't use a litter box and dogs with mange.

Friday's story generated more than 225 comments on tampabay.com, with some people saying they would withhold donations.

Board president Jeff Fox could not be reached Friday night. Longtime shelter director Beth Lockwood declined to comment.

In its e-mail, the board said it is "deeply concerned with the animals in its care." It will "effectively deal with these matters as to ensure faith, transparency and accountability."

Times staff writer Kameel Stanley contributed to this report. Kris Hundley can be reached at hundley@sptimes.com or at (727) 892-2996.

SPCA to review euthanasia policy 08/14/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 4:58pm]
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