Who Let the Dogs Out?

Shelter, Rescuers Partner to Find Homes for Strays

Bob Ennis, Shelter Manager for Pets, Inc. and new Fairfield County Animal Shelter Director James Hill with one of 29 dogs taken from the Fairfield shelter in the last 10 days by two rescue organizations, Pets, Inc. and Ozzie to the Rescue, and placed in safe havens where they will receive shots, be altered and cared for until they can be adopted. Clearing of the dogs from the shelter was facilitated by The Hoof and Paw Benevolent Society.

Bob Ennis, Shelter Manager for Pets, Inc. and new Fairfield County Animal Shelter Director James Hill with one of 29 dogs taken from the Fairfield shelter in the last 10 days by two rescue organizations, Pets, Inc. and Ozzie to the Rescue, and placed in safe havens where they will receive shots, be altered and cared for until they can be adopted. Clearing of the dogs from the shelter was facilitated by The Hoof and Paw Benevolent Society.

WINNSBORO (Sept. 1, 2016) – The dogs are on the move in Fairfield County. More specifically, they are on the move out of Fairfield County’s animal shelter and on their way to rescue organizations that will find them permanent homes.

After a meeting with members of The Hoof and Paw Benevolent Society last week, James Hill, Director of Fairfield County Animal Control, has seen the number of dogs sitting in the shelter’s intake kennels dwindle to nearly zero.

“The last four days have really made an impact on the shelter,” Deborah Richelle, president of Hoof and Paw, told The Voice last week. “The last four days have been amazing to me. We’re hoping that it gives the folks at the shelter the feeling that ‘yes, it can be done.’”

Hoof and Paw proved to be the conduit between the shelter and two prominent rescue organizations – Ozzie to the Rescue in Rock Hill and Pets, Inc. in West Columbia. These two outfits helped clear dogs from the shelter’s intake kennels, Richelle said, and will find for them permanent homes while they wait in no-kill shelters.

Pets, Inc. had previously assisted the Fairfield County shelter, Richelle said, but with Hill taking over last month that relationship had to be reestablished. Now that it has, the wheels have remained in motion.

Ozzie to the Rescue was quickly able to take eight dogs off the County’s hands, Richelle said, while Pets, Inc. took the rest.

“Pets, Inc. has been a big help to us,” Richelle said. “They have taken all the dogs that (Ozzie) couldn’t take. They are a huge asset to Fairfield County, because they have a much larger audience (of potential adopters) in West Columbia.”

“Pets, Inc. has helped us out tremendously, just in the last two weeks” Hill said. “They’ve already taken more than 20 dogs. And they are not selective – they take all dogs.”

The assistance of these two rescue groups has reduced the number of animals euthanized at the shelter, Hill said, an issue that was of great concern to Hoof and Paw. Richelle said the shelter put down about a dozen dogs in the last month.

Another area of initial concern for Hoof and Paw, Richelle said, was the limited hours the shelter is open. Richelle said the County might be able to adopt out animals more easily if the hours of operation at the shelter made more sense. At present, the shelter is open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. The shelter is closed on the weekends; and Saturday, Richelle said, is Prime Time for adopting pets.

Hill is making adjusting those hours of operation a priority. Beginning Sept. 12, Hill said, the shelter will now be closed Sunday, Monday and Thursday, and will operate Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Most importantly, the adoption center will be open Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Hill said Animal Control has made other improvements as well in recent days.

A new web hosting database, he said, will help his department track animals that have been taken in and adopted out or sent to rescues. Hill said his department is also establishing a database of non-profit rescue groups to which daily mass emails will be sent cataloging the animals in the County’s custody.

“We want to keep all the rescue groups in the loop as to what we have,” Hill said. “The earlier we can get that information out there, the more exposure the animals have.”

Hill said Animal Control has also reestablished its student volunteer program through the School District’s Career and Technology Center. Students in the Small Animal Care class will get credit hours volunteering at the shelter, Hill said.

Hill said he also wants to have input into plans the County Council undertook earlier this year to recommend changes to the County’s animal control ordinance, specifically to address tethering which is not currently addressed in the ordinance.

Hill said he also wants to implement a ‘responsible pet owner’ program in the county’s elementary schools.

Richelle, meanwhile, said Hoof and Paw would like to hold a food drive for the shelter.

Richelle also encourages people interested in acquiring a pet to shop first at their local shelters, instead of buying dogs for their breed.

“Now the challenge is to keep the momentum going,” Richelle said.