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Published: Tuesday, 2/16/2010

Fired director: Classes to go on

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

TEMPERANCE - Although she no longer has a job with the Humane Society of Monroe County, Trina Stillwagon wants owners who adopted dogs from the organization to undergo training.

Ms. Stillwagon, who was fired last month as shelter director, said she will host training programs on her own for people who signed contracts when they adopted dogs from the shelter on North Telegraph Road in Monroe.

The Temperance resident also wants to follow through on the "Pit Stop" program that she proposed for people who want to adopt "pit bull"-type dogs from the shelter.

"Ninety-eight percent-plus of the people who adopted dogs wanted this. The response was overwhelming," she said.

After three months of managing the no-kill shelter, she was fired without explanation by the shelter's Board of Directors on Feb. 27.

Previously a volunteer at the shelter, Ms. Stillwagon said she made changes after she took over to improve accountability and bring the facility into compliance with state regulations.

Among the policies that she enforced was having people sign a contract promising they would go to shelter-sponsored training programs for their pets.

"I feel bad for the people who signed these contracts in good faith. My name is also on these contracts," she said. "I looked these people in the eyes and said we are going to help them."

She also pledged to open training to people who didn't get their animals from the shelter by starting the program for prospective owners of "pit bull"-type dogs to improve their handling of the animals.

However, the humane society pulled the plug on the training programs before Ms. Stillwagon could get them going.

Humane society President Dottie Gilbert said she stopped the training programs after learning they were not covered under the nonprofit organization's insurance policy.

The classes would have been held at the humane society's resale shop at the Horizon Outlet Center on LaPlaisance Road.

As of last week, Ms. Stillwagon was looking for a location to host the "Pit Stop" classes and other dog handling programs and was setting up appointments to go to the dog owners' homes.

"We got 100 people who said they wanted the training. We will do it one dog and one family at a time," she said. "We are asking somebody to donate a spot or let us use a location."

Ms. Stillwagon has owned a "pit bull"-type dog since 1993 and believes that the canines can be trained to act socially with people and other dogs.

She is asking that people who adopted dogs from the shelter and want training to contact her at hsmccontracttraining@hotmail.com to get more information.

For those who didn't get their pets from the shelter, Ms. Stillwagon is asking that e-mails be sent to newmonroehumanesociety@hotmail.com.

She said issues that will be addressed in the training include interaction with cats in the home, behavioral problems, running to the door, barking, and food aggression.



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