Animal shelter changes lives |

Animal shelter changes lives

Kennel assistant Karin Klug cuddles with "Zeus", a 5-year-old Chihuahua mix at the county animal shelter on Monday.
Jim Grant | The Record-Courier

One simple act of kindness can make a difference in a pet’s life and today couldn’t be a more fitting day to do just that. Today is “Change a Pet’s Life Day.”

“Change a Pet’s Life Day” was created for nationwide recognition of homeless pets in need for a forever home, something the employees and volunteers at the Douglas County Animal Care and Services facility provides every day.

“The best way we change their lives is by getting to know their personalities and set them up with the best family and home we can,” said Kennel Care Assistant Karin Klug.

Canines and felines come to the shelter for many different reasons. Some are strays or their owners surrendered them because they couldn’t take care of them or for other various reasons and others are there in emergency impound meaning the owner is held up in a court case or the animal was removed because of unsatisfactory living conditions.

One canine currently at the shelter is a German shepherd named Ranger who was found as stray.

“It makes it hard when they’re a stray, because we don’t know anything about them,” said Klug. “We don’t know their name, how old they are or what they’ve been through. All we can do is learn about them.”

Even when the animals are adopted, there is a 10-day period where the adopter can bring the animal back to the shelter if the adoption doesn’t work out, said Klug.

“If an adopter brings an animal back, we don’t look at it as a strike against the animal, it’s just one more thing we’ve learned about them,” she said. “Maybe there were small children who were too excited or rough around them, or it was an older person with a dog that needs more attention and running around then the adopter was able to provide. We like to learn their different personalities and match them with the right people and home.”

Klug said the shelter also gets to know the adopter.

“We figure out what they are looking for and try to match their wants and needs,” said Klug. “Sometimes the adopter goes away with exactly what they want and other times they may come in thinking they want a German Shepherd or a specific breed, but fall in love with something completely different. We have no problem telling a person to wait for a better match or showing them another that might fit them better. We just want to make sure the animal is going to a good home and both the adopter and animal’s needs and personalities are met.”

The volunteers make a big difference for the animals too.

“We have around 60-65 volunteers who come in the morning and afternoons to walk the dogs and give them attention and affection,” said Animal Services Supervisor Janet Duzan. “Many of our volunteers are also involved in fundraising events, donate food and other items to the shelter.”

Ann Stone has been volunteering with the shelter for a little over a year.

“This is a great life,” said Stone. “I’ve been coming here for a year and half and I’ve learned a lot. They do great work here. They keep it well maintained and we see a lot of unhappy cases that turn out happy. It’s just a wonderful experience.”

In many cases it’s not just the animal’s life that changes, but the adopter’s too.

That’s how it was for June Johns when she adopted a pit bull mix named, Olive.

“Her life might have changed, but she has definitely changed ours too,” said June Johns. “She is the sweetest dog,the poster child for a good pit bull”

There are many dogs and cats at the shelter waiting for a new home and friend. Get involved with the shelter today and find out how you can change a pet’s life.

Douglas County Animal Care and Services are open 1-5 p.m. Monday – Saturday and 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. Sunday. For more information, 782-9061 or connect with Douglas County Animal Care and Services on Facebook.

More about DAWG and Douglas County Animal Care and Services will be featured in the 2018 Almanac, available this Spring.