Officials vote to end euthanizing adoptable dogs and cats

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WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - A unanimous vote by the Palm Beach County Commission gives the go ahead for a program that could end euthanization in animal shelters for good. Two local agencies are drawing up a 10-year plan to make it a reality.

Update, TUE 4 PM: This past year alone, Palm Beach County's Animal Care and Control euthanized 12,000 animals. Eight out of 10 of those are cats. It costs at least $50 per animal and $3.6 million of your taxpayer money every year.

Now, the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League and Animal Care and Control have teamed up for the 'Countdown to Zero' campaign. The idea is to have no adoptable animals euthanized by 2024.

Animal Care and Control says the wild cat population is the biggest issue to address. The proposed plan of attack, they say, will cut down on the amount of cats that end up in shelters. It's called TNR [Trap Neuter Release]. "You go out there and actively trap. You get them spayed neutered and vaccinated against disease, and you put them back out there in the community," said Peggy Adams' CEO Rich Anderson.

"Sterilzation is the key. Preventing animals from coming through the door is the key," added Animal Care and Control Director Diane Saube added.

The fact is feral cats coming in shelter doors probably won't leave there alive. Animal Care and Control wants to save the animals and is hoping to receive the funding for this project.

They do admit, however, it is cheaper to euthanize a cat than it is to trap it, neuter it and release it back into the wild.

Previously: Palm Beach County officials are expected to throw its support behind a plan Tuesday to stop euthanizing adoptable dogs and cats within 10 years.

"Countdown to Zero" is an initiative Palm Beach County animal shelters and animal rescue leagues have developed to make sure more animals find caring families.

Nearly 12,000 cats and dogs were euthanized in 2013 at Palm Beach County shelters, according to Peggy Adams with the Animal Rescue League in West Palm Beach.

"Countdown to Zero" calls for more spay/neuter programs in the county and a review of current programs in place. "We see this as a community-wide effort because it's not Peggy Adams' solution, not the county solving this alone.  It's going to require all animal lovers in Palm Beach County," said Rich Anderson, Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League's executive director and CEO.

According to Anderson, it costs county taxpayers $400 for every animal that goes to the county shelter. A year of euthanizing animals costs $3.6 million.

"'Countdown to Zero' is really an effort to make sure we're looking at our programs," Anderson said. "That we're spending our money more wisely."

The County Commission is expected to announce its support of "Countdown to Zero" at its meeting at 9:30 Tuesday morning at Government Center on Olive Avenue in West Palm Beach.

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