A economic problem is costing dogs their lives in Baker County.
Because of budget shortfalls this year, the animal shelter in the county is down to just two employees, who are responsible for all calls and complaints, upkeep of the shelter and the care of each animal in it. The shelter has also taken in more dogs than ever before.
The lack of resources has left the shelter with a 74 percent kill rate, something the county says is heartbreaking for everyone involved but can't be avoided.
"It's a challenge every day, it's something different every day, it's never the same," Baker County Animal Control Officer Steve Self said.
Any animal control officer will tell you it's never easy having such a high turnover, but the county says it simply doesn't have the manpower or money to do anything about its kill rates.
"We're trying to do like everybody else, we're trying to weather the storm, streamline as many operations as you can just like you are with your own family," Baker County Manager C.J. Thompson said.
He blames the economy, saying people have fewer resources to take care of pets, so they surrender them. At the same time, Baker County is making due with a much leaner budget. So from a financial standpoint, it's something Thompson says the county has to do, as sad as it might be.
"Nobody wants to do that, it just has to be done," Thompson said. "There's not enough homes for all the strays."
Those strays don't just come from Baker County, either. The shelter accepts dogs from Charlton County, Ga., as well as parts of Union, Nassau and Duval counties. It doesn't get any funding from those places, though. So it's up to pet owners to help make a difference.
"Good pet owners are not the problem, it's the unresponsible ones that place the burden," Thompson said.
There will be an adoption for the shelter's animals Nov. 3 at the PetSmart in Oakleaf.