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County Animal Shelter taking ‘baby steps’ toward progress
by Liz Marino
January 09, 2013 12:21 PM | 3010 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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Janet Holder
January 10, 2013
We need for area Veterinarians to donate their time to this shelter to neuter and vaccinate some of these pets for free. Elderly would adopt if they were not left with the added cost of these expenses.

Some of us would also be willing to sit in parking lots with these pets to give away free just to provide homes for the ones who are soon to be euthanized. It may be a loss of funds to the shelter, but it saves a life and if euthanized, it was a loss anyway. I am disabled with back problems and arthritis, so I am limited to heavy jobs, but for each free animal adopted, I would be willing to donate my time to the shelter. I am a former Vet Tech and Animal Control Officer. I know there are more out there who could do this as well.
January 09, 2013
I am glad to see Mr. Smith stepped right into the job and took charge and implemented those enhanced pet adoption events on Saturdays and the Toys for Tots campaign. Not to mention his working on Christmas eve to help see animals adopted.
January 11, 2013
Time will tell if the changes noted hurt (by increasing kill rate of animals entrusted to shelter)or help them (by increasing the lifesaving efforts). I pray for the latter.

The adoption fee is reasonable and promotions are being done now more than ever, which further discounts the fee on specially selected animals. This includes a formal adoption process, which protects animals from the likes of unsavory people looking for "free to good home." Anyone looking to volunteer at the shelter can complete volunteer forms today!

Agree, county and vets need to come to some resolution on the vetting of these animals. They deserve no less.
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