News Flash

Sheriff's Office

Posted on: March 3, 2020

Sheriff's Office Animal Shelter Policy

Sheriff Star

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would like to address recent inquiries regarding the Humboldt County Animal Shelter’s policy on euthanasia and unadoptable animals.

The policy of the Sheriff’s Office is to make every effort to reduce the incidence of euthanasia of animals in the shelter. Euthanasia is considered a last resort after all other efforts have failed for domestic animals that are ill, injured, aggressive, temperamentally unstable for adoption, too young for adoption; or possesses another condition that precludes them from placement into a new home. This policy has been in place since 2005.

After a recent inspection of the Animal Shelter, it was determined that dogs were being held up to four months after being deemed unadoptable by shelter protocol. According to our current policy, animals deemed unadoptable must be held at least five days total prior to being considered for euthanasia.  

It was clear from this inspection that impounding these unadoptable dogs for several months in kennels was causing more harm to these already traumatized animals.

The Sheriff’s Office is proud of our staff who work tirelessly to reunite lost animals with their owners. We are also thankful for our positive relationships with several local animal rescue organizations who help us to find alternative homes for unadoptable animals.

Following the recent inspection of the shelter, shelter staff were advised of our policy, which was already in place, regarding timelines for unadoptable animals. Staff were directed that once an animal has been deemed unadoptable, no other organization is willing the take said animal, and two weeks has passed since the unadoptable determination has been made, the shelter will have to euthanize those animals. This two-week waiting period is longer than outlined by our policy, as the Sheriff’s Office recognizes it can take some time to find an alternative situation for these animals with our animal rescue partners. This waiting period can be extended on a case-by-case basis, if necessary, to facilitate a transfer with an animal rescue group.

This direction was given via email, which is linked at the end of this press release in an effort to provide transparency to our community.


Making an Unadoptable Determination

Animals may be deemed unadoptable by shelter staff if they meet the following criteria: animals that are ill, injured, aggressive, temperamentally unstable for adoption, too young for adoption; or possesses another condition that precludes them from placement into a new home

While some determinations may be made sooner, it typically takes shelter staff two weeks after the animal has arrived at our facility to make this determination. If an animal is found to be improving after shelter care and attention, this determination may take longer. Per our policy, every employee is expected to make every effort to give the animal the greatest opportunity possible to avoid euthanasia within the established timeframes.

There are currently 8 dogs that have been deemed unadoptable that have been held at the Animal Shelter since November 2019.

We believe after all resources are expended, rather than keeping an animal impounded in a stressful environment for months or years, the most humane last option is euthanasia.

The Sheriff’s Office will be meeting with leaders of local rescue organizations in the coming weeks to discuss our current policy and established timelines.


Shelter Statistics and Information

The Humboldt County Animal Shelter opened in 2004 to shelter stray domestic animals in the county. The Shelter maintains contracts with the cities of Eureka, Arcata, Trinidad and Blue Lake to provide shelter services.

In 2019, the Animal Shelter processed over 1,347 animals, over 900 of those animals were dogs. Throughout the year, 270 dogs were adopted, 197 were transferred to another shelter or organization and 533 were returned to their owner. In 2019, 47 dogs were euthanized. None of these euthanizations occurred because of the lack of space in the shelter.


What You Can Do to Help

While unadoptable animals are not available to the public, we urge community members to visit the shelter and adopt a pet from our adoptable animals. This opens more space in our shelter and helps reduce stress on all animals that are housed in the facility.

If you are looking for a pet to add to your family, please consider adoption.

The Humboldt County Animal Shelter is located at 980 Lycoming Road in McKinleyville. The shelter is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursdays from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. To see adoptable pets, download an adoption application, or review our Animal Control Procedural Manual, please visit our website at: https://humboldtgov.org/377/Animal-Control-Division.


Additional Resources

Email Exchange RE: Animal Shelter

Animal Control Procedural Manual

Facebook Twitter Email

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