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Humane changes

New board members work to improve Marietta shelter

CHAD PLAUCHE-ADKINS The Marietta Times Mike Montgomery, vice president of the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley's board of directors, shows the new paint in kennels at their shelter on Tuesday. The lighter colors are meant to ward off depression in animals.

The board of directors of the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley say they’ve kicked off an effort in 2019 to update facilities, make the adoption process smoother and increase communications among those operating their Marietta shelter.

Those changes are improving the overall well-being of the animals there and providing residents of Washington County better access to animals they want to give a forever home, said Mike Montgomery, vice president of the board.

The first change made was the election of new board members in December.

“It’s the first time we’ve had nine members,” Montgomery said.

Along with Montgomery, Julie Lowthers, Amy Rogers, Esther Salem and Amber Dennison remained on the board from 2018. New board members elected were Ethan Gerber, Chris Roy, Jim Raney and Bonnie Walters.

Meanwhile, Rennelle McIntire, shelter assistant manager, said the launch of the group’s new website last week will help with the frustrations some people have had in the past when trying to adopt. She said the old website required the use of a PDF form that had to be downloaded and then filled out. She said the new method is much easier, and doesn’t take as much time to complete the adoption process.

“You find the picture of the animal you want, click on it, and the adoption form pops up,” she said.

She said that two rules that barred people from adopting a pet have been eased since the beginning of the year as well. The first was the no-adoption allowed if there was an unspayed or neutered animal in the home. The second was the no-adoption rule if a person was planning to declaw a cat after adoption.

“We take each adoption case by case now,” she said.

McIntire gave a specific example of a person adopting a cat for someone in cancer treatment.

“We can’t really have them being scratched up,” she said.

McIntire said that even though declawing doesn’t ban a person from adopting a cat, she will try and persuade people not to do the procedure.

“I’m usually able to deter them from declawing,” she said.

According to the humane society’s website, declawing a cat can cause pain in the paw, infection, tissue necrosis (tissue death), lameness and back pain.

Montgomery said the procedure to adopt puppies has also been amended to give preference to residents of Washington County as well.

“When we got puppies in, they used to go straight to the rescues for adoption,” he said.

He said the shelter will now keep the puppies in-house for up to four weeks before transporting them, giving people in the area first chance at the newborn bundles of fur.

Another big change at the shelter are the monthly visits by area veterinarians to the facility for preventive care on the animals and continuing education of the staff.

“We are trained to spot health issues,” Montgomery said. “But not as well as a vet.”

Before the visits started, Montgomery said workers at the shelter took pets to the vet when they determined it was necessary but there were no regular visits at the shelter. He said the former method of operation would cost the shelter money even if the animal didn’t need medical attention and could put the entire shelter at risk if they accidentally left a sick animal in the population.

Dr. Sarah Schott, a veterinarian at Green Meadow Veterinary Hospital, is one of the vets that does the monthly visits, and she said she plans on helping the staff become more knowledgeable about the illnesses a shelter might encounter. She said one of the most common problems facing cats at any shelter is upper respiratory tract infections. Schott said with training, staff can more accurately identify the illness and not raise any false alarms.

“If the discharge (out of the animal’s nose) is clear, then they can hold off,” she said. “It’s when the discharge is green that we have to react.”

Schott said that protocols being created by her and other vets for the staff to use will benefit the animals housed at the shelter.

“Preventing disease will help the overall wellness of all the animals at the shelter,” she said.

Schott said that regular vet visits to shelters is the norm in other areas, and it is good to see the local shelter following that policy.

Other changes that Montgomery said help with the efficiency of the shelter include installing a large capacity washer and dryer to decrease man hours doing laundry and LED lights to replace the fluorescent ones that increase light by 30 percent while reducing energy costs.

Montgomery said a paint project that has been going on for several months should help ease anxiety that dogs in the shelter may feel.

“Studies have shown that dark colors like gray and black can make a dog depressed,” he said.

Montgomery said that even though people will donate paint to the shelter, they only use the brightest and most colorful ones for the dog kennels.

He also said the new board of directors has adopted a policy that encourages employee input on the day-to-day running of the shelter.

McIntire said the first suggestion being implemented is having information books in each holding room in the shelter that gives accurate, in-depth information about the animals housed there.

“We already have books in the front of the shelter that shows every animal we have here and in foster homes,” she said. “But they only show things like personality traits.”

She said the new books will have more detailed information for workers on hand, like shot records and animal history, instead of having them search through files in the office.

All these changes will, according to McIntire, help the staff attain the feeling that keeps them coming back to the shelter day after day.

“My favorite part is when they get to go to their forever home,” she said.

For more information about adopting a pet or to volunteer visit hsov.org or call 740-373-5959.

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