By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
As big dogs barked all around him, “Wags” the puppy sat in his air-conditioned kennel, with a stuffed animal, listening to a symphony by Joseph Martin Kraus piped in on NPR.
Wags and his mom, Onyx, ended up at the Wood County Dog Shelter recently when their owner started having health problems as she traveled from Detroit south on Interstate 75. While an ambulance took their human to the hospital, a dog shelter employee came to pick up Wags and Onyx.
On Tuesday, the Wood County Commissioners toured the county dog shelter where they visited Wags and the five other dogs residing in the kennels – two pit bull mixes, two rottweiler mixes and one scruffy-looking terrier named Gizmo.
Wood County Chief Dog Warden Andrew Snyder showed the commissioners some of the improvements at the shelter – air conditioning in one room of kennels for the dogs, an improved sound system so the dogs hear music and voices throughout the day, and new beds.
Shelter staff is also making an effort to give the dogs time in the outdoor pens six days a week. The pens have plastic wading pools full of water, so the dogs have plenty to drink or can take a dip if they are hot. The smaller pens have covers over them. Snyder is hoping the larger outdoor pens will soon have tops also, since Max the dog quickly scaled the fence last week.
“He came right up to the door and sat,” till shelter staff let him in, Snyder said.
The improvements at the dog shelter have not gone unnoticed by humans either.
It was only a couple months ago, when a group called Wood County Canine Alliance held a rally in Bowling Green, demanding better conditions at the county dog shelter. Some of those protesters are now volunteering at the dog shelter, Snyder said.
“We really appreciate that,” he said.
Connie Donald, of the Wood County Canine Alliance, said she has seen improvements.
“Oh my gosh, yes,” Donald said. “Ever since that rally. All that noise was worth it.”
The dogs are going outside more, and fewer of them are being euthanized.
“The dogs are happier,” she said.
Last year, the county dog shelter impounded 426 dogs, compared to 297 so far this year. The euthanasia rate last year was 14.3 percent, compared to 3.1 percent so far this year.
Donald would still like to see the main kennel area of the shelter air-conditioned. But Snyder pointed out that if all the dogs don’t fit in the air-conditioned kennel room, they are rotated in and out. Some of the dogs are brought into the office area as well.
“The puppy has spent more time there, than in the kennels,” Snyder said of Wags.
The dog shelter also has large fans that keep the air moving, he said.
“Our facility is pretty nice,” he said.
Snyder also noted air conditioning is expensive. “We have some schools that don’t have air conditioning,” he said. “These dogs are used to being outside.”
The dog warden also showed the county commissioners the new sign in front of the dog shelter, to help people find the site located in the back of the county’s East Gypsy Lane complex. A new sign was also placed at the Dunbridge Road entrance to the complex.
Next to the dog shelter is the county dog park, where improvements are being planned to fix poor drainage and fix entry-exit issues. The dog park currently has 97 members, who pay $40 for a year membership and $30 for a partial year. Those funds are used for repairs to the dog park.
Helping to fund the shelter are dog license fees. Last year, a total of 21,347 dogs were licensed in the county. This year, the number so far is 21,319. Snyder expects the final number for 2018 to surpass last year’s.
“Overall things are good,” Snyder said. “We’re bringing in more revenue because we’re getting more dogs licensed.”
And for those wondering – shortly after Tuesday’s tour, Wags and Onyx were picked up by their owner after she was released from the hospital.
“They were happy to go home and see their mom,” Snyder said.