Trumbull County kennel improves by leaps and bounds
By Ed Runyan
By nearly any measurement, the Trumbull County Dog Kennel on Anderson Avenue in Howland has undergone a turnaround in the last four years.
In the fall of 2007, the kennel was a mess — the building was a mess, the percentage of dogs being euthanized was around 85 percent, and dog-rescue organizations flooded the county commissioners with complaints.
The county commissioners started with physical improvements — new roof, repairs to the building’s block walls, construction of additional areas outside to house dogs.
Then they addressed work rules and encouraged a new relationship between kennel workers and the volunteer organizations that desired to have a greater role at the kennel.
Thirteen months ago, commissioners hired Gwen Logan to be chief executive dog warden, a part-time position. It was the first time the facility had a nonunion manager at the helm.
County Commissioner Frank Fuda said Logan has continued the improvement process.
“It’s really turned around. They’re doing a great job,” Fuda said. Among the improvements over the past year is the cleanliness of the facility, Fuda said.
“They’re dedicated people taking the job really seriously,” Fuda said.
The euthanasia rate is now 15 percent, with most euthanized dogs being the ones that are sick or injured when they come to the kennel.
In some cases, the dogs are euthanized because the owner asks for it to be done.
When dogs are euthanized, it is done in a more humane way than in the past, Logan said.
The previous method was gas.
Now, the dog dies by lethal injection, which is like “going to sleep,” Logan said.
The number of dogs handled by the facility over the past year has grown 50 percent — from 800 to 1,200, Fuda said.
Logan said the number has risen because the kennel employs social media such as PetFinder.com and craigslist.com to advertise the dogs it has available and to help reunite people with dogs they have lost.
“It’s like a lost and found,” Logan said of the kennel’s mission, saying it is focused on service to people and dogs, and getting the dogs in and out as quickly as possible.
Another thing that is helping the kennel is improving people’s attitude toward it.
In addition to greater cleanliness, kennel employees have tried to forge a better relationship with dog- rescue organizations and employing people who work who need to work off court fines and costs.
The kennel also has employed welfare recipients, who are required to provide community service as a condition of receiving benefits.
The facility has improved its outdoor cages over the past year, and now it hopes to provide a fenced outdoor area where dogs can run and exercise.
With it, the dogs — especially energetic younger ones — will be happier, healthier and better behaved when people come to view them, Logan said.
The cost will be about $5,000 for the fencing. Land is available at the adjacent Trumbull County waste-treatment plant.
The money for the fencing is available through the licensing fees collected at the kennel.
The biggest source of operating revenue comes from the $300,000 collected annually from the 21,209 license fees paid by dog owners across the county.
The number of paid dog licenses last year rose by about 1,000, Logan said.