Pound always looking for volunteers –
By Patricia Beech –
Deputy Dog Warden Donnie Swayne wants residents of Adams County to know that the county dog pound is not what it used to be.
“The pound used to have a bad reputation because of its euthanizing practices,” says Swayne. “A lot of people think the county pound is still running the way it was 20 years ago, but that’s not the case.”
The agency’s euthanization rate was extensive and adoptions were non- existent, according to Swayne, who says most of the strays and lost dogs currently picked up by the Dog Warden’s office are adopted out.
Ohio law requires that the pound hold a stray or lost dog for 72 hours to give the owners time to claim their pet. If no one claims the animal, a photo is posted on the Petfinder web page.
In addition to putting the dogs on Petfinder, the pound also works with the SPCA in southeast Ohio to find them homes.
“They’ll take 15 to 20 dogs at a time,” says Swayne. “But their criteria is strict – the dogs have to be less than three years-old, and they won’t take pit bulls – they only want adoptable dogs.”
Swayne said the pound has had 394 dogs so far this year – 285 were picked up by the dog warden and 109 were brought in.
“We gave 46 dogs back to their owners, we adopted out 122 here at the pound, and the rest were sent to rescues,” he says. “So, 377 dogs actually went back home, or were adopted, or rescued.”
The price of adoption, including tags, adoption fees, a five-way vaccine, and worming – $35.
The pound is a county agency under the authority of the Board of Commissioners. The Dog Warden is charged with picking up strays and making sure that dogs across the county are properly tagged.
Swayne says that the pound keeps the dogs for a long time and will only euthanize animals that have bitten people or are vicious towards people.
“We can’t adopt them out because of the potential liability to the county,” he says. “Every dog gets a chance – we’ve picked up dogs that were vicious in the beginning, but once they get in here and they’re being taken care of, and being treated the way they should be treated, their viciousness goes away.”
While the majority of dogs picked up by the Dog Warden are mixed breeds, Swayne says they also bring in several pit bulls each year.
“We don’t take pit bulls that are owner-surrendered because it’s hard for us to adopt them out,” he says. “People just get tired of them, or they move to a place where they can’t have pets, they might give the dog to a friend, but the next thing you know their neighbors are calling to report a dog running at large.”
Bringing in dogs that are not adoptable can inevitably lead to overcrowded conditions.
“We do not euthanize for overcrowding,” says Swayne. “When we reach full capacity, we have to turn to other agencies for assistance.”
The pound houses 28 dogs in both outdoor and indoor kennels. During cold weather all the animals are brought indoors, a situation that usually results in overcrowding.
“We’d like to see the outdoor kennels under roof some day,” says Swayne. “That would help with overcrowding during the winter months.
Whether they’re kept inside or out, each day the dogs get to spend supervised time outside running in the kennel’s wide, fenced-in yard.
“We try to let them out once a day,” says Swayne. “If a dog does escape out of its kennel, it’s not going anywhere because of the fence.”
However, there have been exceptions.
“We had two beagles escape on a Saturday night,” he says. “We chased them but couldn’t catch them, and the next morning, just as we finished feeding and cleaning up, here they came – I guess they figured out they were treated better here than they were out on their own.”
Unlike most government offices, the pound is a financially self-sustaining agency.
“In the past, the Commissioners had to take money from the general fund to put into the dog pound to sustain it throughout the year,” says Swayne. “But, last year they didn’t have to put any money into the kennel because tag sells and adoptions sustained our budget, and this year it’s going to do the same thing.”
Despite being in the black financially, Swayne says the agency is desperate for volunteer workers.
“We’re always looking for volunteers – we’d love to have people that come every week,” he says. “It’s not just always about cleaning the kennels, it’s also about getting the dogs out and walking them, taking pictures to put on Petfinder, answering the phone, and spreading the word that we have dogs here that are adoptable.”
Anyone interested in volunteering at the pound can fill out an application which must first be approved by the County Commissioner’s office.