County Animal Control kennels are at capacity
Animal Control Officer Laura Klein has a full kennel and is constantly busy with animal calls and caring for the dogs.
Klein has had as many as 19 puppies at one time in the pound since she began working as Animal Control officer almost six months ago. One pregnant female dog that Klein picked up as a stray bore her litter in the kennel. As of last week, she had five adult dogs and three puppies at the county's six-kennel animal shelter.
Klein has worked hard to place almost 70 unclaimed animals in foster care or with animal rescue operations. One rescue organization also places photos of some of the unclaimed Animal Control shelter dogs online at PetFinders.com, which helps a few find homes, she said.
Klein reviews applications from potential dog owners and does veterinarian checks and home checks. She said she doesn't want the dogs to end up being displaced from their homes again.
If Klein didn't do the extra work to place the animals, they would have to put down three to five dogs a week because of lack of space, she said. Klein also spends time testing the dogs' temperaments and socializing them so they are used to being around people and other dogs.
Most of the dogs that she picks up on her calls are strays. Klein has had about 98 dogs at the kennel. Of those dogs, only 14 were claimed by the owners. About 21 dogs were euthanized due to medical conditions, old age, aggressiveness or inability to function or be placed, said Klein.
Call Animal Control first
Klein said that so many people tell her that they never think to call Animal Control if their dog is missing.
"It should be the first place they call," Klein emphasized.
Even if she doesn't have their dog, she files a full missing dog report. If Klein gets a call about a dog that looks similar, then she has contact information for a possible owner. By law, the county must hold the stray dogs they pick up for five days at the animal control pound.
The number of calls that Klein gets about cats is astronomical, she said. Though the animal control pound does not accept stray cats, Klein does pick
them up if they are sick or injured. The cats are then placed with the Humane Society or other rescue organizations.
Klein worked previously for the Humane Society
of Morgan County and for other rescue organiza-
tions. She noted that the Humane Society's no-kill
policy had put the Animal Control shelter in a bind. The Humane Society wasn't taking any animals since they were full so they couldn't accept any of the pound's dogs that were considered more adoptable, said Klein.
24/7 and constant calls
Klein's job is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the phone rings constantly.
They have animal surrenders all the time because people can't keep their dogs for various reasons. Klein is getting a lot of calls about pit bulls since some new homeowner regulations won't permit them.
"No one accepts them," she said.
Big dogs are also harder to move since people want toy-size dogs, she said.
The cat situation is "way out of control," said Klein. Everywhere you turn, there are cats, she said. She thought that if the county took on cats as part of animal control, that they would have to hire a second person to help.
Most of Klein's calls are about stray dogs or neighbor disputes over dogs getting in their trash or being on their property.
"Keep your dog in your yard," Klein advised.
Klein was disheartened to see emaciated animals on her calls and finding animals dumped off unwanted.
"The whole situation is a heartache," Klein said of the county animal scene.
Basic needs, identification
Dogs need food, water, exercise, attention and adequate shelter. A dog should have a decent doghouse or be kept in the indoors if it's hot or raining, she said. Dogs are also required to have current rabies shots.
West Virginia State Code 19-20-22 requires owners to confine a female dog inside for 25 days if she is in heat, Klein noted.
Klein also stressed having dogs and cats spayed and neutered to help keep the spiraling numbers of stray and unwanted animals down. There is assistance for spaying and neutering through the Spay Today program and the Humane Society, she said.
Klein would love to see a local veterinarian have a low-cost spay/neuter day once a month. It would help the problem, Klein said.
Klein would like to see pet identification on dog collars—county tags and rabies tags—as well as contact information for owners.
"Every time I can send a dog back home, it's wonderful," Klein said.
Dogs can be adopted
Dogs from the Animal Control shelter that have not been claimed can be adopted. A donation is requested. Klein asks that adopters also have the dogs spayed or neutered and get their vaccinations.
Klein could use water bowls, food dishes, blankets and 2 ft. by 4 ft. plastic pallets so the shelter dogs can be up off the concrete floor. PetSmart donates all their food and the makers of Frontline donate the topical flea and tick treatment, she said.
For more information about Animal Control shelter needs or if interested in adopting a shelter dog, call Klein at 258-6363.