New dog warden begins first day

By Lindsay Kriz -

POMEROY — After handling the veterinary side of last June’s Ohio River Medical Mission, Coleen MurphySmith knew this kind of work was what she needed to continue doing.

“I’d never worked so hard in my life,” she said of her time with ORMM. “And that was it, that was really it; I thought, ‘I could do (the job) because I survived the Medical Mission with a lot of help.’ That did it for me.”

So with this experience in hand, a love for dogs and experience with rescuing Great Danes, MurphySmith, who formerly served as Meigs County Sanitarian at the health department, applied for the position — and immediately accepted once she was approached with the offer. And now, she’ll have full-time help with the assistance of Meigs County Assistant Dog Warden Dee Cummins, whose position was formerly only part-time.

Cummins praised the choice of MurphySmith and said she knew the two would accomplish much together, including the upcoming move of the shelter from the Meigs County Fairgrounds to a new building at the intersection of State Route 7 and Hiland Road in March.

“I think she’s an excellent choice,” Cummins said. “I think with her working with the public as much as she has over the years is going to be quite an asset to the shelter, her bringing her experience.”

Monday was MurphySmith’s official first day — and she said she wasn’t nervous.

“It wasn’t a surprise walking into (the job),” she said. “(But) I have a lot to learn.”

In addition to moving the shelter location next month, other goals the two are immediately jumping into include looking into the logistics of a microchip program with low cost to those who adopt at the shelter. Another program that has already been administered, but Cummins said she wants the shelter to improve upon, is a followup program.

This would allow those dogs that have been adopted from the shelter by families who can no longer support the dog to be returned to the shelter, and allow a better support system for any adopters. Cummins said that she and MurphySmith will also be doing better assessment of each dog’s personality to help match their personality with the right owner.

For the duo, this will also be an opportunity to help continue the dispelling of negative ideas about the shelter and shelter dogs.

“We want to get out there in people’s minds that the shelter is a positive force in the county,” MurphySmith said. “We’re just two people who really just like to get out there in the forefront and get people adopting, instead of buying a dog here or there.”

Cummins added that any negative images of shelter dogs need to be dispelled as well.

“Often times (they’re here) at no fault of their own; life happens,” Cummins said. “There’ve been a lot of tragic human reasons as to why the dog has ended up here. But with our reputation starting to precede us in a positive manner, a lot of people are starting to trust us to be able to bring their dogs here, where they will be assessed, adopted and rescued.”

Currently, adoption fees are $100, which includes vaccination, license, rabies shots, deworming, and spaying and neutering. Anyone wishing to adopt can bring cash or a check. So far, since the implementation of spaying and neutering fee last August, 75 dogs have been spayed and neutered in Meigs County.

MurphySmith urged the public to give her time to get settled into the job before offering to volunteer, although any volunteer work will be appreciated.

For other information, call 740-992-3779 or visit the group’s Facebook page.

By Lindsay Kriz

Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2555.

Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2555.