The network needs representatives in our three counties.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Teresa Turner knows Ohio animal shelters and pet owners kill unwanted dogs and cats every day. She says that since no statewide network exists to handle the problem, she assembled one herself.
Turner, executive director of the Ohio Humane Education Association, began establishing contacts for the network last summer.
The network, Protecting Ohio's Companion Animals, seeks to reduce the number of animals entering shelters and halt inhumane sheltering practices statewide.
OHEA acts as an umbrella organization for the network.
"No one really knows, statistically, what every county is doing," Turner said. "It's not a dog and cat problem; it's a people problem."
Purpose: POCA aims to establish volunteer contacts in every Ohio county. Seventeen of the state's 88 counties are represented, but Turner says that animal cruelty occurs statewide.
POCA needs representatives in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties, she added.
"This is going on in other counties," she said. "But no one's doing anything about it."
A contact helped Turner uncover a recent animal cruelty case in southeastern Ohio's Vinton County. Peggy Schroeder joined POCA earlier this month and immediately alerted Turner that several dogs had been shot in the head at the Vinton County pound.
Upon hearing this, Turner called the Vinton County Commissioners, who announced last week that the shooting will cease.
"Things here have gotten a lot better," Schroeder said. "But we'd like to get more contacts. We want to share our knowledge throughout the state."
Web site: Turner hopes that Schroeder and Vinton County will provide a good example for the rest of the state. She already has constructed a Web site, where Ohioans can get information about animal cruelty, volunteer to be a POCA contact or make an online donation. The Web site address is www.ohiohumaneeducation.org/poca.htm.
Turner, a full-time special education teacher, started OHEA in 1983 to educate people about animal cruelty. With POCA, the organization has taken another step toward ending the inhumane treatment of animals.
"Progress is measured in [animal] lives saved," she said. "By working together throughout Ohio, we can make a difference for thousands of dogs and cats."