Wood County dog pound seeks volunteers for program set up by warden

Volunteer Becky Hurley works with a dog at the Lucas County Dog Warden’s Office in Toledo.
Volunteer Becky Hurley works with a dog at the Lucas County Dog Warden’s Office in Toledo.

Wood County is following in the footsteps of Lucas County with the establishment of a volunteer program at its dog pound.

Andrew Snyder, chief dog warden at the Wood County Dog Shelter, is taking applications from those interested in helping the dogs. The process includes a written application followed by an orientation session to train volunteers.

“While the program was in development, we had a group of individuals that volunteered to take photos of dogs and post them online,” Mr. Snyder said. “We have had great support from members of the community that expressed an interest in volunteering, which prompted us to initiate a formal program.”

The volunteers who take photos and post them online on Petfinder.com and Facebook assist the shelter “immensely” by increasing the animals’ exposure, Mr. Snyder said.

Volunteers will be allowed to do many things at the pound, including walking the dogs to improve behavior, mental health, and decrease excess energy, he said. They also may bathe and provide limited grooming to adoptable dogs to improve physical appearance and health.

Other duties include naming dogs, taking pictures of them, and posting the photos online. Volunteers will develop profiles for dogs that will be printed on the dog’s cage card to provide potential adopters with information on the animal’s personality and behavior. Volunteers will provide counseling to those interested in adoption to try to match people with dogs and answer questions for adopters regarding dog ownership and training.

Volunteers also will assist with the development and implementation of community outreach and education programs and with offsite activities and special events.

Mr. Snyder set up the volunteer program’s policies and procedures in 2011 based on policies he received from Lucas, Montgomery, and Franklin counties.

“I also have spoken with numerous other dog wardens throughout Ohio at regional and state dog warden meetings to compare how they operate their volunteer programs,” he said.

Many of the potential duties in Wood County are similar to the the Lucas County dog warden’s volunteer program, which began in November, 2010. Julie Lyle, Lucas County dog warden, said 42 volunteers are active.

Volunteer orientations are held monthly. Most of the volunteers walk dogs, bathe and play with them, and take photographs. They also use their computer skills in posting information on the dogs on the Petfinder.com Web site, prepare enrichment toys, brush dogs, and assist at off-site adoption events.

“Our volunteer program is so important to us as the pictures they take are vital in getting exposure for the dogs,” Ms. Lyle said. “And the time they spend with the adoptable dogs lessens the stress on the dogs, allows them to potty outside, and keep nice potty habits. They just get more interaction and love from these great volunteers.”

Ottawa and Fulton counties do not have volunteer programs.

“This is a topic that has not been discussed with the commissioners, so I really can’t answer if we will ever have the program here,” said JoLynn Hetrick, Ottawa County dog warden.

In Fulton County, Dog Warden Brian Banister says he does not have the large number of dogs on a daily basis that Wood and Lucas counties have. His average daily population of dogs in the pound is about six.

“I also have a very good network of rescue groups who take almost all of my adoptable dogs as soon as they are able to be released from the pound,” Mr. Banister said. “With all the support I receive from Planned Pethood and Animal House Rescue, I really don’t need the extra help, as dogs are not impounded for any long period of time.”

Prospective Wood County volunteers may request application forms by email: wcdogshelter@co.wood.oh.us.

Contact Tanya Irwin at: tirwin@theblade.com or 419-724-6066.