Trumbull County pound celebrates adoption rate and raises
By LINDA M. LINONIS
The dogs are wagging their tails, and the volunteers and staff at Trumbull County Dog Pound are smiling about the 97 percent adoption rate.
That figure demonstrates a turnaround from the 97 percent euthanasia rate of years ago.
It didn’t happen overnight, but took dedication and innovation by staff and volunteers.
Gwen Logan, hired as dog warden in September 2010, instituted a three-week foster-to-adopt program that allows a potential adopter to “try out” a dog in their home to see if the dog is a good fit with their families. There is a contract with an adoption fee and spaying or
neutering to help reduce the pet population.
A renovation at the pound has resulted in 12 new inside/outside kennels with panels between dogs, a quarantine room with kennels and intake/outtake room. There also are eight outdoor, “fair weather” kennels. A recreation area, dedicated in August 2013, allows volunteers to exercise and play with dogs.
“A half-hour of play between two dogs is like four hours of walking,” Logan said. Exercise by volunteers, she said, helps the dogs be happier, healthier and less hyper when potential adopters see them, and dogs also sleep better. “Volunteers improve the quality of life for dogs here,” Logan said.
Marty Conklin describes herself as a “rescue volunteer” on a contact card on which she urges “be a light in your community.” She and others make up the “unstructured group of dedicated and very caring volunteers” at the pound. The group is nonprofit but is not a 501(c) organization.
Conklin began volunteering at the pound in 2008, and stopping there is part of her daily routine.
At the pound, volunteers walk and play with dogs, cross-post videos and photos with descriptions of dogs on the internet to help them get adopted or rescued, transport dogs to the veterinarian or rescue groups and board and foster dogs on their way to or waiting for rescue. Volunteers also take on emergency needs at the pound and attend to daily medical needs including vaccines.
“A lot of inroads have been made,” Conklin said. “The dogs are getting better care and treatment.”
Conklin emphasized the volunteers also help dogs in the community. She said the volunteers help owners with emergencies that they can’t handle.
She said the volunteers maintain a Facebook page, where administrators post ongoing albums of adoptable dogs. “It’s updated nightly,” Conklin said, adding Logan provides information including gender, weight and breed. “Volunteers do fun videos with the dogs in the exercise area, and we update photos,” she said.
Conklin said the volunteers post on many sites to spread the information about dogs as widely as possible. “It gives them a better chance of adoption,” she said.
“It’s important to keep an ongoing relationship with the warden. We’re in a good place,” Conklin said of interaction with Logan. “Gwen [Logan] had vision, and it’s benefiting the dogs.” Conklin added the dog warden keeps a database of rescue groups.
“The dogs need us, and that’s most important,” Conklin said. Volunteers always are needed to help with the dogs and fundraisers.
“I believe rescuers are born. ... They’re passionate about saving animals,” Conklin said. She fosters special-needs dogs.
Other volunteers agree. “Walking them and getting them out and about keeps them adoptable and lets their personalities show,” said Tonya Shelko of Howland.
Toni Libbey of Bazetta added, “There are so many good dogs who need homes. I’ve loved dogs all my life ... they’re wonderful companions.”
Shelko and Libbey, dog owners, said volunteering is a satisfying experience. Shelko said she sometimes brings her children to interact with dogs and show potential adopters the animals are kid-friendly.