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County Animal Shelter taking ‘baby steps’ toward progress
by Liz Marino
January 09, 2013 12:21 PM | 3173 views | 3 3 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Joe Livingston<br>Douglas Animal Shelter Kennel Technician Natalie Hamrick holds Jolie, a puppy up for adoption.
Staff / Joe Livingston
Douglas Animal Shelter Kennel Technician Natalie Hamrick holds Jolie, a puppy up for adoption.
New hours, new ways of work and increased community outreach are some steps being taken at the Douglas County Animal Shelter to bring better customer service and better animal services.

The shelter, which suffers from tight quarters for both staff and animals, is currently renovating former mobile classrooms no longer in use by the Douglas County School System into office space.

“Offices will be moved and reorganized for better utilization of space, so animals are less stressed and better cared for,” explained Rick Smith, director of animal services, who has been at the job for about two months.

Space once used for offices in the main building will be turned into a separate cat isolation area.

Two primary goals for the animal shelter is to “provide a humane stay while they are with us and implement progress in the community,” Smith said.

More homes are needed for the animals housed in the shelter, he said.

“We are trying to get the population down to a manageable number,” Smith said. “When you keep adding animals, you have more animals than staff to manage.”

He added, “We are trying to get them out of the shelter and into good homes. Getting the word out to the public about the many wonderful animals we have at the shelter and finding them a good home is a priority.”

The longer an animal is housed in a shelter, the less socialization they have, said the director.

“Warehousing animals by adding more cages is not the answer,” Smith stressed.

There have been several recent activities to make people more aware of shelter animals, including three animal adoption Saturdays at Pet Things on Douglas Boulevard.

“We are continuing to look for other venues for animal previews for adoptions,” he said. “We have to get out to high volume areas, which is good way to reach people who may not be aware the shelter exists.”

The shelter hosted a toy drive to benefit Toys for Tots in December, which offered a discount on pet adoptions.

“That was totally a win-win situation,” Smith said.

A number of staff gave up their Christmas Eve to voluntarily staff the animal shelter for those seeking a new family pet in time for Christmas.

Donations to the shelter remained steady, with no significant increase. However, several people who had lost loved ones over the holidays gave memorials, according to Smith.

New hours have been set in keeping with the shelter’s budget and to provide better customer service to the public, Smith said.

The shelter hours also changed to expedite animal control officer response time.

“We are tying to be more responsive to the community,” said Smith. “Animal control has many facets.”

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