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Citizens concerned over kill rates at humane society

On Monday Commissioners approved a contract renewal to run the county's animal control unit out of the St. Joseph County Humane Society despite opposition from taxpayers.

In December, ABC57 looked into legal animal dumping because the practice doesn't sit well with taxpayers who voiced their opinions at the open meeting.

Ruth Szyarto believes the euthanasia rates at the St. Joseph County Humane Society are too high.

Szyarto said, “My focus is more on their lack of using rescues to help find homes for all the animals there instead they keep euthanizing them and putting them in the landfill in Buchanan.”

Szyarto is part of a group on Facebook called "Bringing Change to the St. Joseph County Humane Society" that has nearly 400 members. Szyarto and Mary Johnson said they have talked to commissioners about how the shelter disposes of the dead animals.

Johnson said, “Dr. Carol Ecker said it is case closed. She is not seeking an alternative to try and find any other means to dispose of the animals other than what they are currently doing at the Berrien County Landfill.”

Johnson filed a Freedom of Information Act and looked into how many animals are taken to pet rescues versus how many are put down at the St. Joseph County Humane Society.

In 2012 the shelter's intake report states that zero animals were taken to rescues and 4,413 were put down. In 2014, she says it improved and 28 animals were given to pet rescues.

Ruth Szyarto compared the statistics to South Bend Animal Care and Control as well as the shelter in Elkhart County.

Szyarto said, “There's 1,300 that got placed in Elkhart County in pet rescues, 560 from South Bend, and only 28 from the St. Joseph County Humane Society during the year 2014!”

St. Joseph County Commissioner Andy Kostielney said they are late on renewing the 2015 contract because they are trying to figure out what to do next.

Kostielney said, “It would be nice if there are avenues that instead of Euthanizing all these animals, give them homes or give them to organizations that could use them, it is something we should certainly be doing.”

Dr. Carol Ecker and the St. Joseph County Humane Society have no comment on the story.

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