County shelter hits the ground running
The responsibility for stray animals in the county fell under the sheriff's department as of July 1, and they've wasted no time in getting things set up for their furry tenants.
The animals are getting the attention they deserve - they appear well fed and content. The shelter has wide open spaces inside and out, clean cages, good lighting and the pleasant aroma of wood shavings permeates the rooms. The dogs even get to listen to WVMR at night to keep them company.
According to shelter manager Robin Robertson, the dogs get time outside of the kennels every morning while their cages are cleaned, and so far, they've all been getting along.
"We take 'em out and walk 'em, they're not just in the dirt or tied up inside all day long," she said. "They get a lot of socialization here. A lot of people stop by, so they all get attention."
Robertson said getting the shelter to this point has been a lot of hard work and they've had their setbacks, but things are rolling right along.
"The storm definitely delayed us," said Robertson. "And as far as policies and procedures, we don't have all that down yet, we're still working on it. I just got kind of handed the shelter. I'm learning, but I'm an animal lover so it's not a big deal. I've been down here every day since the first to get everything set up and ready for the animals."
The shelter is back in the Allegheny Recreation Center, and it houses both cats and dogs. Robertson said they lucked out, there were still cages and equipment leftover from when the shelter was there in 2010.
Last week there were 11 dogs, 18 cats and eight kittens at the shelter. Robertson said most of the animals at the shelter now are strays, other than a couple of dogs from court cases. She said they've adopted out two dogs and one cat since they opened their doors in Marlinton, and the more centrally located shelter should help the animals in the end.
Sheriff David Jonese explained how county residents can help get strays off the streets and into a loving home.
"Call 9-1-1. Once the call is initiated, our animal control process goes into effect," said Jonese. "The animal is picked up and brought in here."
"When a stray comes in, we first have to hold it for five days - a stray hold, to give an owner time to reclaim it," added Robertson.
Sheriff Jonese has had more of a hands-off approach since Robertson's involvement, but he's really happy with how everything is coming together.
"Extremely happy, I knew I would be," remarked Jonese. "When Robin and Josh [Vaughan] said they were gonna be involved I knew it would require very little on my part. Stay out of their way, if they need something, help 'em."
Vaughan and Robertson recently reached out to the folks at the Humane Society to see how they can work together keeping animals housed in the county.
"We went to our first meeting last Thursday," Vaughan explained. "We discussed issues with them, how they can help us, how we can help them, that sort of thing. Just trying to get a relationship started there. They have resources we don't have, we have resources that they don't have. So, we're trying to work together and see what we can come up with."
There's a lot of people that have helped get the project off the ground. Robertson said she couldn't have done it without help from her family, Josh and Rylie Vaughan, and Jacob and JoDee Friel.
"They helped a lot until we got established," smiled Robertson.
Despite the support and donations from the community, the shelter is still going to need additional equipment and volunteers.
"We're hoping to get more kennels and beds, new leashes," said Robertson. "It's gonna take a lot of money and time."
Jonese said the shelter is open for the community to experience and he wants to get more kids and families in.
"This is what a shelter should look like," said Jonese. " And it's a great place for kids. If anyone wants to come in and assist, we'd appreciate it."
Anyone wanting to adopt an animal, volunteer their time, or even just take a dog for a walk on the river trail, can stop by the ARC building. Anyone under the age of 13 should be accompanied by an adult. There's no sign yet and business hours aren't concrete, but Robertson said she's shooting for between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. so she can clean all the cages every morning.