Animal activists in Nova Scotia are upset with how the Municipality of the County of Kings deals with its unwanted cats, after discovering nearly 350 cats and kittens — many of them healthy — have been euthanized over the past two years.

Scott Saunders, an animal welfare advocate in the province, requested euthanization records for the Municipality of the County of Kings for the past decade under the Access to Information Act. What he got was a stack of two years worth of veterinary bills between July 4, 2011 and Aug. 19, 2013.

Saunders said according to those documents, 236 cats and 113 kittens were euthanized during that time. The veterinary bills stated 59 of those cats and kittens were unhealthy, 95 were feral and 195 were healthy at the time they were put down.

Saunders called the numbers "disturbing" and said he knows not every animal can be saved, but doesn't believe it's ethical to manage domestic animal populations with euthanasia.

“A lot of folks think that every animal that goes to the pound finds a home. Sadly we’re not finding that out from this specific municipality at all. There are some animals there that we believe to have been adopted out or put into shelters — which is fantastic. But there is a great deal that have not and would have been adoptable,” he said.

Delancey Bishop, who has been the animal control officer in the Municipality of the County of Kings for 15 years, said he gets calls about cats every day.

He said there are fewer cats being euthanized now than in 2004, when the municipality first implemented a cat bylaw to impound stray, feral and unwanted animals.

“Accusations that we are being cruel to kill so many cats is not helping any cause here. We are being accused, as municipal government employees spending Kings County tax people’s dollars, of doing things that the residents don't want to happen,” said Bishop.

'What is the other alternative?'

“If we stop doing it, what would happen? We would go back to the numbers of ... when we started the bylaw to begin with. As long as there’s nobody’s willing to take the cats that are healthy and nobody’s willing to care for these cats, what is the other alternative?”

According to Bishop, in 2009, 429 cats and kittens were impounded and 302 of them were euthanized. Last year, of the 225 cats and kittens were impounded, 59 were put up for adoption, six were reclaimed by owners and 141 were euthanized.

“We certainly do end up putting down lots of cats that could be adopted if there was enough demand for them. There’s no room left in the SPCA, there’s no room left in the Wolfville animal shelter —  those two organizations are always maxed-out. We’ve got a few other organizations in Kings County that we’ve worked with and some even it the HRM area that we’ve tried to place, say small kittens for example,” said Bishop.

“Animal control gets tasked with the unfortunate deed of actually putting the animal down. That makes people angry. The question is, who should they be angry at? Should it be the  municipal officials that are doing their job or the people who haven’t made shelter space for them? I think everybody's kind of doing their best job.”

Saunders told Information Morning's Phlis McGregor he wants to see more effort and money put into a trap, neuter and release program for feral cats and public education on spaying and neutering for all cats.