By PHIL ATTINGER

Staff Writer

SEBRING — Contrary to statements made at the last County Commission meeting, Highlands County Animal Services would not resort to euthanasia on unadopted dogs if a hurricane is coming.

Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Scott Dressel said the division charged with housing stray animals in hopes of getting them adopted out successfully places 90% of the animals that come in. Those who are still there when a storm approaches are placed with other animal adoption programs.

“We go above and beyond trying to get them adopted,” Dressel said.

Most of the animals that were adopted got homes in the Northeast — along the Northeastern Seaboard and the New England states, he said.

Currently, Dressel said, Animal Services has 22 kennels that must be cleared in the event of a storm. Before arrival of Hurricane Irma in 2017 or Hurricane Dorian this year, Animal Services staff got all dogs placed in other facilities.

The only way the county would euthanize a dog, Dressel said, is if the dog has bitten someone. That’s not very often.

“(Animal Services) does a great job of avoiding euthanization,” Dressel said.

Animal Services, he said, keeps animals a lot longer than some other facilities would, much longer than the five-day hold that is required, in hopes of getting them adopted out.

Small dogs adopt out quickly, Dressel said. Big dogs are harder to get placed.

“We welcome people to (come out) and adopt,” Dressel said.

Highlands County Animal Services, at 7300 Haywood Taylor Blvd. in Sebring, is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Call 863-402-6730 for details.

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