Blistering heats places focus on proper pet care

Sunday, August 7, 2011 at 10:05pm
Metro Animal Care and Control incinerator (Jude Ferarra/SouthComm) 

When the Memphis Animal Shelter’s incinerator recently malfunctioned, workers at the facility began disposing of animal carcasses in a local landfill. Predictably, strong criticism followed. 

“This is disgusting,” a reader commented on a July 28 Commercial Appeal story detailing the incident. “What’s wrong with using a private crematorium or one at a surrounding city or county? If the average Joe Citizen disposed of his pet this way and was discovered, I bet he/she would be arrested or fined.”

In Davidson County, matters aren’t so dire: The city’s incinerator is working fine. But with 100-degree heat straining strays, animal control field workers and equipment, pet care is at a premium. 

“Animals we find now, because of the heat, are usually dehydrated or already in a full-blown heat stroke,” said Judy Ladebauche, Metro Animal Care and Control executive director. 

Ladebauche said animal control euthanizes unclaimed animals as a last resort. Staff members consider incineration the most respectful and sanitary manner of disposal. 

With that in mind, Ladebauche — who’s also president of the Animal Control Association of Tennessee — said she’s concerned about the Memphis shelter.

“I had been aware of many of the challenges the [facility] has faced during the past several years,” she said. “The incinerator is just one of many issues they are dealing with. Certainly, the association is willing to offer guidance.”

Brent Hager, director of the Metro Health Department’s Bureau of Environmental Health, said Nashville’s incinerator is in “good operating condition.” 

“If there are any signs of trouble, we have a company that can visit even after-hours or on nights,” Hager said. 

Though some animals are “not adoptable,” according to the city’s standards, Hager said Metro’s euthanasia rate has dropped about 7.8 percent annually since fiscal year 2008-09. 

As the heat blisters, though, Ladebauche was blunt in her wisdom for pet owners.

“It’s so important that animals have shelter and a source of water all the time,” she reminded.

3 Comments on this post:

By: s on 8/8/11 at 7:35

The most important way for people to care for their pets is to spay and neuter them. Every year over 10,000 animals are killed at Nashville’s pound. It does not have to be that way.
Proper pet birth control can stop these senseless deaths. There are not enough homes in the city for all the unwanted animals roaming our streets, starving and meeting violent ends.
It should be a law that requires people to “fix” their pets or pay a breeders fee. Until that happens ten’s of thousands of animals will be born every year in Davidson County that will be counting the days until they are put to permanent sleep at our Humane Association

By: gdiafante on 8/9/11 at 6:23

120 degree heat index doesn't discriminate between fixed pets.

By: budlight on 8/9/11 at 6:42

G, I think what "s" is trying to say is that if pets are spayed and neutered, then there are less pets to be homeless and not cared for. I also agree with you that 120 heat index does not discriminate between fixed or non-fixed pets.

My dog has an abundance of water and shelter and cooling fans. He is so nutty that he will just stand there and look at the water and pant and pant, but sometimes will not drink. I can't figure him out, but he's healthy so that's what counts.