Animal shelter hours to change
By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 28, 2012 1:46 PM
Changes in operating hours at the Wayne County Adoption and Education Center, a voucher program to encourage spaying and neutering, and using an outside cleaning contractor for non-kennel areas were approved recently by the county's Animal Control Advisory Committee.
The committee approved the new hours beginning in January, when the center will be open Monday through Friday from noon to 5:30 p.m. and on the first and third Saturdays of the month from 10 a.m. to noon.
Currently the center is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon.
The center staff arrives at 7 a.m. and has to rush to have it cleaned by the time it opens at 10 a.m., said Animal Control Director Vicki Falconer. Opening at noon will allow shelter employees to take compensatory time in place of being paid overtime, while providing more time for cleaning, she said.
There is normally little traffic on Saturday, and on a recent Saturday only two people showed up the entire day, she said.
"We are putting in a lot of man-hours and only a few people are showing up," she said.
The staff arrives Saturday at 7 a.m. and leaves about noon or 12:30, she said. Mrs. Falconer said she had considered just being open on the third Saturday of the month when the Humane Society is at the center, but with extended hours.
Mrs. Falconer said she and County Manager Lee Smith had discussed the hours and decided instead to open on the first and third Saturdays.
"I want to set up drop-off and visitation hours," she said. "We are watching the (traffic) flow. Some days everybody wants to be there at 10 o'clock to drop off and other days they do not. I have contemplated letting them visit from 12 to 5:30, but only let them drop off from 12 to 2:30. That way I could have somebody from my staff to be back there for two hours for drop-offs. That lets the rest of my staff be there for the public."
Set visitation hours would allow staff to walk visitors through the facility to ensure they are not touching multiple animals which can spread disease, she said.
Visitors would be able to interact with a dog or cat inside a visitation room where a staff member would be available to answer questions.
Wayne County Commissioner Bill Pate, who is on the committee, said that with proper notice of the new hours that he couldn't see where the public would be unhappy with the changes.
The hours would allow the county to take care of the comp time and cleaning thereby "killing two birds with one stone," Pate said.
Mrs. Falconer said the county also has started looking at the finances donated to the shelter strictly for spaying and neutering -- a "very touchy" subject in Wayne County.
Mrs. Falconer said she had sent an email to the nonprofit Spay and Neutering Assistance Program to possibly provide the service just for animals that the shelter adopts out.
"What we have looked at doing, we are going to do a voucher system at the shelter," she said. "Whatever we set the voucher for, right now we are looking at about $100. I am not going to say that they cannot use a local vet. We will work with the local vets who will charge them whatever they set to charge their clients. I will pay the set voucher amount."
It would be up to the pet owner to pay the remainder, she said.
The vouchers would be for Wayne County vets only, and would go straight to them, she said.
"That is the way that we (vets) do it with the Humane Society," said committee member and veterinarian Dr. George Silver.
The voucher will "pretty much cover" the SNAP cost to spay or neuter, Mrs. Falconer said.
"Right now I am only going to work with the adult dogs that are adopted out because when you start adopting out little puppies it starts to get messy because of their age," she said. "You have to wait."
Puppies are usually four to six months old before being spayed or neutered, Dr. Silver said.
The committee approved the proposal.
Another change being considered is a 24-hour waiting period before someone could carry an animal home.
"We adopt out right now on the spot when they fill out the paperwork," Mrs. Falconer said. "I don't think it would do any harm because most people come in asking, 'How soon can I take the dog home?' Well, right now, you can take it home that day."
It could also cut down on compulsive compassion adoptions, she said. In those cases it is not unusual for the animal to end up back at the shelter within days, she said.
"If they have to think about it for a 24-hour period it may give them time to say, 'Maybe I am not quite ready. Maybe I need to wait a while,'" she said. "That will help ensure we are getting the right adoptions out. I am hoping it will decrease our returned animals."
In final business, the county is considering awarding a competitive bid to have a company clean the shelter building, except for the kennels.
"We have not awarded it yet," Smith said. "We are in the process of making a cost comparison. What we are trying to do is make it (cost) a wash. By being able to cut back on comp time and those kinds of things, it gave me the money to do the cleaning."
The county may test the use of a contractor for the rest of the year to see how it works out, Smith said.
It could provide more time for the staff to clean the kennels, work on adoptions and do background research, which are problem areas, he said.
If the cleaning service works out, the county might could look at the operating hours again, Dr. Silver said.