Animal Control sees steep decline in number of cats euthanized

Posted at 6:59 PM, Oct 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-22 23:55:08-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Since Christie Chipps Peters became the director of Richmond Animal Care and Control in February, she said her goal has been to try to reduce the number of animals coming into the shelter, and the number of those euthanized.

"I am committed to saving as many lives as possible," said Chipps Peters in a phone interview on Tuesday.

According to statistics, she has been successful.

In 2013, 1,274 cats have been brought into or dropped off at the shelter. That number is down more than 400 from this time last year.

The number of cats euthanized this year is also down. The number is at 212, compared to 639 in 2012.

CBS 6 asked Chipps Peters what's behind the numbers.

"Since I have come on we had had an appointment based owner surrender program," she said.

She said owners now have to make an appointment, whereas before, they could just show up and drop off their pet. Chipps Peters also said the shelter has a pet retention program that started in March, offering advice to people who might be having issues with their animal.

But several viewers contacted CBS 6 and said they have some concerns about the lower numbers because of what recently happened where Chipps Peters used to work.

For four year, before coming to Richmond, she held the Executive Director position at the Humane Society in Portsmouth.

According to documents obtained by CBS 6, state investigators paid an on-site visit to that facility this past August. During that visit, staff confirmed a feral cat colony was being maintained on the property.

The investigation also revealed that some cats were adopted by Humane Society employees and then released.

According to a letter from the Portsmouth Humane Society's attorney, that organization's board found that the feral cat colony was started by Chipps Peters before she left in January. It was then expanded by the current staff without authorization by the board.

CBS 6 reporter Chelsea Rarrick asked Chipps Peters if she began the feral cat colony. She said yes, but did not want to discuss the circumstances since our story was about Richmond.

Chipps Peters did say that she did not know that it was in violation of state law.

However, the Humane Society's attorney said that in 2009, the Portsmouth shelter adopted a policy not to accept ferals.

CBS 6 asked if Chipps Peters was aware there was a policy in place.

"I genuinely do not know anything. That was a discussion that I was not privy too," said Chipps Peters.

While she has been the Director of Richmond Animal Care and Control, Chipps Peters said no feral cat has been released.

She said Richmond Animal Care and Control does accept feral cats, which is defined as a cat that has been born in the wild.

Chipps Peters said feral cats can be adopted out as barn cats.

Robin Starr, CEO of Richmond SPCA said she can't speak on the exact causes of the specific drop in numbers at Richmond Animal Care and Control, but she does say that progressive programs can make a difference.

"The impact of that is that all over the community there are fewer animals losing their lives in local government shelters such as Richmond Animal Care and Control," she said.

Watch Chelsea's video for the full report.