OXFORD — In what was a bad year for all in at least some way, Granville County had some good news in the form of a low animal euthanasia rate in 2020.

The county’s animal shelter took in 2,271 animals and in one form or another released 2,049. Of the remainder, 123 animals were euthanized, a figure that included 80 dogs, 31 cats and 15 wildlife.

“That’s one of the lowest numbers we’ve ever done and some of the changes we’ve made was with the trapping of cats,” said Matt Katz, animal management director. “We’ve had a lot of success with trap, neuter and release, and we’ve had outside groups helping us pay for that, which [has] been a big blessing.”

County leaders were informed of the good word earlier this month, during a Jan. 4 Granville County Commissioners that saw Katz brief elected officials on the work of Animal Management and the animal shelter in 2020.

Katz told them that the animal control and shelter staff are celebrating the shelter’s low euthanasia rate.

They finished with a 6% euthanasia rate, which means 94% of all the animals they took in are left alive.

“That’s a huge accomplishment,” he said adding that a 10% euthanasia rate is generally considered a no-kill benchmark, although that’s not defined anywhere specifically.

The COVID-19 pandemic helped out a little bit because it did slow some things down and prompted people to stay at home, especially when school was out and a lot of people were working from home. That made it easier to get pets back to their owners.

The year also included a move to a new facility, next to the Granville County Law Enforcement Center off Interstate 85’s Exit 204, at 515 New Commerce Drive in Oxford. The move took place in the middle of October. Katz said there is a “learning curve” came with that, though he described it as a “wonderful facility.”

“I think everybody’s been out to visit it and if you’ve been to the old building, there’s just no comparison,” he said. “So thank you for supporting us and allowing us to do our job so well.”

Katz added that county officials, elected and otherwise, have guided and supported the animal control and shelter staff with the new facility. Also, “we have excellent vehicles,” equipment and training, and have been able to return on that investment with the “extremely low” euthanasia rate, he said.

He said they don’t cut corners when it comes time to have to act on animals that are causing a nuisance or a public safety hazard.

Animal Control also has “tremendous support” from the community now, he said.

“So much of animal welfare is about doing the right thing and then advertising it, so, again the county blessed us with Lynn Allred in the public information officer position,” who has been “very, very helpful” in advertising what they do, Katz said.

They don’t do what he referred to as “a good job of that”, adding that she has “really helped” them out.

“Our in-kind donations of cleaning supplies, cat litter, dog food, cat food, blankets, sheets, towels, odds and ends things that we ask for on Facebook and stuff and social media, the citizens have really blessed us by providing so many of those materials to us,” Katz said. “Our in-kind donations are really through the roof.”

To keep it up, the office is “going to need a few more staff members moving forward,” he said.

“We’ve doubled capacity with the new facility and we’re keeping up with it,” Katz said. “We had a couple little things to work through, but the better cages and dog kennels and those types of things have made it easier to clean and keep the animals going.”

But they haven’t really gotten to full capacity yet, although they got close once. They really don’t know what it’s like to have 40 or more kennels full of animals and double the capacity on cats, “so knock on wood we won’t have to deal with that anytime soon,” he said.