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The SPCA says 565 animals were adopted and 813 put down last year. (CBC)

The Nova Scotia SPCA says the animal shelter in Sydney euthanized far more animals than it adopted out last year.

The provincial group won control of the shelter after a court battle with a local humane society.  

Kristin Williams, executive director of the SPCA, said an audit found that 565 animals were adopted last year while another 813 were put down.

That's well above the 10 per cent euthanization rate at most shelters, she noted Wednesday.

"Obviously, our aim is to make sure that every animal has a chance to be given a loving home, and it was clear that the animals at the Cape Breton shelter were not given that opportunity," Williams said.

The SPCA has a no-kill policy, which means animals should only be euthanized if they are in extreme pain or extremely aggressive.

Williams said they've been able to stick with that policy in Cape Breton.

"We have been operating that shelter since January and we've been able to do so without euthanizing animals for reasons other than mercy and severe aggression [and] that may cause a risk to public health," she said.

"It really is about attitude."

The SPCA launched a legal fight last year against the Cape Breton Humane Society, a local group that was running the shelter and was once a branch of the provincial organization.

During a court hearing, volunteers and staff with the SPCA said they had serious concerns about cases of animal neglect and a failure to provide veterinary care at the shelter.

The local board said it was largely unaware of those concerns and that many of the allegations were based on hearsay.

In January, a court awarded the SPCA temporary control of the shelter.

The SPCA promptly restricted new arrivals, saying it would only accept those brought in by animal control because too many cats and dogs at the shelter were sick.

Nearly 50 animals were transferred to a shelter in Halifax in the first week.

Williams said her group will return to court in late May if it can't reach an agreement with the local humane society for permanent control of the Sydney shelter.