Wayne County Dog Shelter helps dogs get adopted by families
By EMILY MORGAN Staff Writer The Daily Record Published: November 5, 2016 4:00 AM
WOOSTER -- The Wayne County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center is helping lost dogs reunite with their families and finding new families for abandoned dogs.
Under the Ohio Revised Code, the county is responsible for the care of all stray dogs in Wayne County. The shelter opened in September 2015 on the north side of Wooster and is funded primarily by the sale of dog licenses.
The dog shelter has 50 kennels available and cares for any dog found running loose in the county or dogs picked up in cruelty cases. It will also take in owner releases if space is available and the dog passes a temperament test.
"The public can find the dog and bring it in or they can call the dog warden and the dog warden can pick it up and bring it in. That's our main focus and priority," said Katelyn Lehman, the shelter's director.
The county previously contracted with the Wayne County Humane Society to take care of the wild dogs in the area, but they continue to work with them in cases when the shelter is low on space. The humane society continues to take in stray and injured cats.
"It's not to say the county wouldn't start something in the future or look into programs for cats, because it is an issue, but right now the Humane Society has agreed to help the cat population," Lehman said.
When a dog arrives at the shelter, the staff scans checks for tags and scans to see if it has a microchip. The dogs are then weighed and vaccinated, de-wormed and flea treated.
If the dog has identification, the shelter will immediately contact the owners. The dogs are held in the holding area of the shelter until the owners contact and pick up their pet. Under the law, shelters are required to hold dogs for 72 hours if they're not identified.
"We actually don't count the day it comes in or the day it becomes available so we hold them a little bit longer just to give the owner an opportunity to claim their dog," the director said.
If the dog isn't claimed, the staff will conduct a temperament test to make sure the dog is friendly and can be adopted. The dog will interact with other dogs and cats and the staff will check it with food to make sure there are no signs of aggression.
The staff also handles the dog more, plays ball with it, checks to see if it knows any tricks and if it takes treats gently. If the dog passes all the tests, it will then go to the adoption side of the facility and wait for its forever family to take it home.
The cost of adoption is $75 and includes all the dog's vaccinations, a microchip and a dog license. For dogs that are not already spayed or neutered, the shelter will give the dog's new owner a voucher for 50 percent off the procedure at 13 local veterinary clinics. New pet owners are also responsible for their dog's heartworm test.
"We are promoting the responsible pet ownership," Lehman said. "We had a meeting and we invited all the veterinarians in the area and they agreed that the owners should be responsible for something."
The dog shelter only euthanizes dogs when they are overly aggressive or have a severe illness A dog is never euthanized for space. A friendly dog will be kept at the shelter until it's adopted or can be transferred to a rescue shelter.
"If we have a dog that is just not coming around, it's just very aggressive, we will euthanize it. Euthanizing for aggression is just to keep everybody safe. I wouldn't want to take home an aggressive dog," Lehman said.
Before adopting a dog, Lehman advises people to do their research and be prepared for the responsibility and costs that come with owning a dog. She wants to make sure people are 100 percent committed to the dog and ready to adopt.
"I think the biggest thing is this is a commitment," Lehman said. "The dog has already been moved around enough and been through enough stress. To go to a home and then come back to a shelter, it's a lot on a dog."
The shelter is open for adoptions Tuesday through Friday from 12 to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Once an application is completed, the staff can usually let people know if they are approved or not, and approved applicants may be able to adopt the same day.
Volunteers can also come during business hours to help walk and play with the dogs or help the staff with clean up after they complete a one-day orientation held on the second Saturday of each month.
"It's super important for the volunteers to come and spend time with the dogs. It helps them show better whenever people come to look at the dogs to adopt them. It gets that burst of energy out of them and tire them down a bit. It's a big help," Lehman said.
Over the first year of operation, county administrator Patrick Herron has been very pleased the number of adoptions and dogs returned to owners. His main concern is the number of dogs arriving at the shelter with no form of identification, whether they are without tags or a microchip.
"Only one-third of the dogs come in with identification so we need to do more education," Herron said. "Unless a person is looking for their dog, there's no way for us to contact the owners of these dogs with no I.D."