Commissioners review dog shelter report

By Sarah Hawley -

POMEROY — The Meigs County Canine Rescue and Adoption Center is in compliance with state law and doing a good job, according to a report from an independent investigator.

Following rumors and concerns brought before the Meigs County Commissioners last month regarding the Meigs County Canine Rescue and Adoption Center, the commissioners hired an independent investigator to examine the policies and procedures of the center.

The commissioners addressed the report from the investigator during Thursday’s meeting.

Commission President Tim Ihle stated there were no faults found and there were some recommendations made. The recommendations are expected to be implemented as part of continued improvement at the new center.

“It is good to know that it is a good shelter and in compliance with the law,” Commissioner Randy Smith said.

The investigation compared the Meigs County shelter to those in Jackson and Gallia counties as far as intake procedures, number of dogs in an out and euthanizations.

According to the report, which was provided to the Sentinel, Meigs County is the only one of the three reviewed which has an open drop-off policy, meaning the person bringing in the dog does not have to reside in Meigs County.

Through Aug. 1, a total of 542 dogs had been brought into the shelter with 141 adopted, 53 claimed by their owners and 270 sent to rescue. A total of 44 (8 percent) were euthanized. That number is up slightly from 2015 when six percent, 59 dogs, either died or were euthanized.

“The rate which is substantially higher than the aforementioned counties may be explained by the fact that the shelter is ‘open to all’ and owners are taking dogs there from jurisdictions who have not accepted the canine or do not have a shelter,” the report states. The investigator went on to state that the dog warden, Coleen Murphy Smith, had indicated that she would likely see the dogs in the shelter regardless of the open door policy as some from Mason County or other locations may dump the dogs in Meigs County.

“In light of the euthanization numbers for the last year and a half, it becomes clear that the rescue numbers must increase,” the report states.

The investigator recommended that the warden and her assistant recruit a volunteer rescue coordinator whose job would be to network with groups to find homes for canines.

Additionally, a support base is needed in the community. The investigator specifically noted the Athens County Friends of the Shelter organization, which works in the community with fundraising events to support the shelter. Also, special adoption events are held in the community.

A foster program should also be implemented, the report states, allowing for canines to be placed with foster homes should the shelter be full.

The investigator recommended that the warden meet quarterly with other dog wardens to discuss ideas or concerns.

Finally, the report states, the commissioners, warden and staff must realize the importance of the community and its support.

“The Meigs County K-9 Rescue and Adoption Center does and admirable job, but with these recommendations will be the most successful rescue center in southern Ohio,” the investigator concludes.

As to the overall assessment of the center and warden, the report states, “It is the opinion of this writer that the Meigs County Warden, Coleen Murphy Smith, does a good job, is dedicated and is open to suggestions to improve the shelter.”

By Sarah Hawley