02/13/11 — Group works to improve Duplin County animal shelter

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Group works to improve Duplin County animal shelter

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 13, 2011 1:50 AM

There is little expectation that a new animal shelter will be built in Duplin County within at least the next five years, said County Manager Mike Aldridge, but a group of volunteers is helping to make the current one a little better.

For the last 11 years, Pet Friends of Duplin County has been working to help move animals out of the shelter and into rescue organizations. And so far, said Bob Roman, board of directors member and membership chairman, they had more than 400 successful adoptions.

He said the group also has been active, especially in the last five or so years, in trying to provide mats for each cage and other amenities to make the shelter a little nicer for the animals there.

Now, though, they're in the process of taking a more hands-on role, actually coming to shelter and volunteering.

Roman explained that a pilot program was run in January with three days of volunteers, but that they hope to eventually be able to have people at the shelter at least two or three days a week.

"They (the animal control officers) have a very difficult task. They have an uphill slog every day," he said. "We're still trying to get all the processes worked out, but we're hoping to get a little momentum going."

And, Aldridge said, their help is welcome.

He also said the county has worked out an arrangement with local inmates -- who have no contact with the animals -- to help clean the animal pens.

The efforts, though, have allowed the county to open up the shelter up for longer hours -- 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

"It's better for the public," Aldridge said. "We're ramped up about as much as we've ever been."

But, he said, there's not likely to be a new shelter -- something that was discussed last year -- in the near future.

"It just wasn't the right time for the commissioners to be real excited about taking on additional debt," Aldridge said. "I think we can make do with it in the near term. It's just really not a top priority right now."

In the meantime, though, Roman says Pet Friends will continue to work to improve conditions for the 60 or so animals at the shelter every day.

"We've been involved in the shelter for quite a while," he said. "We're pet people. We want conditions in the shelter to be as good as they can."