By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Connie Donald and Dolores Black are looking out for homeless residents of Wood County – the four-legged ones.
The two women met with Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw and Administrator Andrew Kalmar earlier this week to see how the lives of dogs at the county dog shelter could be improved – even if for just a brief period.
“I think as a nation we need to be more kind to the less fortunate,” and that includes dogs, Donald said.
The women had some success in their quest.
One of their main concerns was that the Wood County Dog Shelter is difficult for people to locate. The shelter is in a small nondescript building in the back section of the county’s East Gypsy Lane Complex. The signage at the complex entrance is too small, they told Herringshaw and Kalmar.
“They feel that our signage to direct people to the dog shelter isn’t enough,” Kalmar said.
“People get lost. A lot of people think the Wood County Dog Shelter and Wood County Humane Society are the same thing,” Donald said.
The county officials agreed that the signage could be improved – perhaps even including the happy cartoonish dog figure that now adorns the dog shelter vans.
“I think that’s doable,” Kalmar said.
But the other requests were not met with the same enthusiasm.
Donald and Black suggested that the county dog shelter adopt the same spay-neuter policy that some other shelters have to fix dogs prior to adopting them out. The county currently charges $14 for a dog license when someone adopts a dog from the shelter. The new owner is then given a $75 gift certificate to use for spaying or neutering their dog.
“They want to spay and neuter them before they ever go out the door,” Kalmar said. “We think the person adopting the dog should take the responsibility.”
Donald said only about 30 percent of the new owners use the certificates and get their new dogs fixed. “I think we should spay and neuter, and vaccinate before they leave,” she said. “If we stop having puppies, we can stop killing them.”
If the canines at the dog shelter were spayed and neutered, they would then be able to use the outdoor dog park which is located next to the county dog shelter.
Donald and Black also asked about the $82,000 bequeathed to the dog shelter for the health and betterment of the dogs, by local resident Dorothy Stokes.
“Some people have the view that now that you have a lot of money, you should spend it,” Kalmar said.
The county had air conditioning installed in the small intake room for dogs, but not for the main kennel area due to the expense.
“If they are reasonable suggestions, we can do it,” Kalmar said.
Donald and Black asked if a foundation could be established for residents who want to bequest money for the shelter, so more interest could be earned on the donations. Kalmar said he would check with the county prosecutor’s office on setting up a trust.
The women pointed out some inexpensive changes that could make life more pleasant for the dogs during their stays at the shelter. When the dogs come there, they are lost and afraid, Donald said. Small additions like a pheromone spray or music can make the dogs more relaxed and less likely to bark continuously, she explained.
Donald also said it would be nice to put “treat buckets” on each kennel door, so when prospective owners check out a dog, they can entice it with an edible treat.
Of great concern for the women were the living conditions for the dogs deemed “unadoptable” and scheduled for euthanasia. Since euthanizations are done on Thursdays, some dogs have to spend several days in isolation rooms with no comforts like beds or toys.
“They go kennel crazy,” Donald said. “It’s sad. It’s so sad.”
“They have got to make life more bearable for those dogs,” she said. “I’m really optimistic we’re going to make a difference for the dogs and the staff also.”
County officials didn’t make specific promises, but the women were hopeful. “Dogs are bipartisan. We all love them,” Donald said.
Donald pointed out that she complimented the commissioners about the improvements made at the dog shelter in the past decade, and the efforts of Dog Warden Andrew Snyder.
“That makes me very happy,” she said about the improvements for the county’s less fortunate four-legged residents.
Black and Donald represent a group of people concerned about shelter dogs, with a Facebook page helping Wood Co Dog Shelter Dogs.