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Local animal activists push for improvements at Chesapeake Animal Services

Posted at 8:00 PM, Jul 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-27 00:07:25-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - A local animal activist addressed her concerns about the city's public shelter at Tuesday night's city council meeting with some supporters by her side.

Amy Holloway started an online petition that now has more than 7,500 signatures, calling on Chesapeake citizens to insist that the city hire a leader who does not accept the status quo, but is fiercely dedicated to saving the lives of Chesapeake’s sheltered pets.

She has been working with other activists in the city and in Hampton Roads to address, among many topics, the city's euthanasia rates compared to neighboring cities.

According to the state veterinarian, in 2015, Chesapeake Animal Services euthanized 43.4 percent of their cats and dogs, Suffolk Animal Control euthanized 38.5 percent, Virginia Beach Animal Control euthanized 23.7 percent, and the Portsmouth Humane Society euthanized 12 percent.

Holloway also feels how the shelter operates is part of the problem.

"Not friendly, very cold, very jail-like, and that's not what potential adopters want to see," she says.

The position for superintendent was open, but was recently filled by Sharon Sockman, formerly an Animal Control Officer and supervisor.

News 3 spoke with Sockman last week before the announcement about the new position. She says their rates have improved over the years.

"We're in a transition period, obviously everyone knows the superintendent just left, it's going to be hard and there's going to be some changes, so I hope these groups give it a chance."

Sockman says it is hard to compare them to other cities with more staff and different funding. Additionally, unlike most humane societies and SPCA's, they have to accept every animal that comes into their shelter. She says owners will also bring in their sick animals to be euthanized that cannot afford vet care.

"That's a statistic for us too by offering humane euthanasia for these citizens, but it's also a necessity for some folks."

Sockman says they have plans to implement new software that would put adoptable animals' pictures online, and a new position to recruit volunteers.

Holloway is hoping their voices are heard.

"This is an age old issue that’s been going on for many years," she says. "They’ve heard it before we’re just trying to get it started again and get some change."