County dogs and cats find shelter and love
There’s nothing like swinging in your hammock while your watch the birds fly by.
Northumberland County certainly has the luckiest dogs and cats in its animal shelter.
The shelter goes above and beyond clean kennels, cat cages and good food, Much thought has also been given to their safety and comfort. Most of the kennels have easy access for the dogs to go safely from their warm inside kennel to their outside kennel and fresh air.
Whether the animals are strays or brought in by owners and in need of a home, they are separated from animals awaiting adoption until their health can be checked. There is even a nursery/maternity, or whelping area to protect puppies from infections. Cats, also, have a quiet area off from the scary barks of dogs. A play park is also provided where dogs can run, play ball and bark happily without the restraints of a tight collar and leash.
All of this would not have been possible before 2002-2003. Shelter Supervisor Fran Warren, credits former sheriff Wayne Middleton, who took control of Northumberland’s Animal Shelter and welcomes volunteers into the shelter.
In recent years a volunteer corps was created, with the appointment of Warren as supervisor of the project. It has made a huge difference in what the shelter is today, not only in the buildings, but also in the care the animals get today.
In the beginning, volunteers began with inadequate facilities, just a concrete building with 10 kennels for dogs and nothing for cats.
During the next nine year, volunteers raised all the money to build two new additions and make extensive improvements It was all done with grants, generous cash donations from county citizens and hard work by volunteers, Warren said.
Today, the new shelter has 26 inside kennels, 24 outside kennels and two big exercise areas for the animals. The enclosed exercise/play park was designed and built, except for the anchor-fence surrounding it, by Boy Scouts from Scoutmaster Bob Parker’s Callao Boy Scout Troop 250 for an Eagle Scout project. The park has trees, grass, plants and benches, just like any other park.
There is a lobby-adoption room where those seeking a new pet can meet it and get to know their adopted pet before making a final decision. Other facilities include a bathing and grooming area, medical room, three quarantine rooms, a whelping/nursery room and two commercial size automatic emergency generators.
Volunteers also raised money to scrape the driveways, plant trees and shrubs, build a property fence and make other improvements. It is not just about buildings, it is also about the care the animals get. There are around 25 volunteers on duty year-round for animal care. They clean and sterilize kennels, crates, food pans and water buckets. They feed and water the animals every day of the year and tirelessly deal with problem animals to make them adoptable and don’t give up on animals after a set time. Oh, and they also give the animals love.
The volunteers started and run the yard-sale operation in a part of the school board office in Lottsburg. That facility has also expanded with an addition of old classroom trailers no longer in use by the schools. This has allowed the group to handle the sale of donated furniture. Since all the merchandise is donated, the animal shelter gets all the profits.
Warren said the volunteers couldn’t operate without the help and cooperation of the county government for their continuing support and cooperation. County Administrator, Kenny Eades, has been particularly helpful, Warren said.
The shelter operation remains under the Sheriff’s Office. The oversight of Sheriff Chuck Wilkins and the former Animal Control Officer Roger Briney and the current ACO Kevin Keeve has been an essential part of its successful operation.
The goals this year include achieving a higher animal adoption/save rate, better on-site medical treatment under strict guidance of a local veterinarian and continued expansion of the successful yard-sale operation in Lottsburg. Volunteers would also like to take on a public education campaign telling pet owners and students of the importance of vaccinating for parvo, distemper, rabies, also for spaying and neutering pets. They would also like to see more education on the detection and prevention of heartworms.
Shelter days and hours are Wednesdays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Hours for the Indoor/Outdoor Yard Sale at Lottsburg are Tuesday morning and Friday afternoon and the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. The Shelter is always looking for volunteers, if you are an animal lover.