05/05/13 — Shelter creates new list for help

View Archive

Shelter creates new list for help

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 5, 2013 1:50 AM

Wayne County Animal Control Director Vickie Falconer said she is neither surprised nor disappointed that only a handful of people have signed up thus far for a revamped and more structured program that will return volunteers to the shelter for the first time in nearly six months.

The program also will require more training, particularly in how to handle the animals. Even those who have volunteered before will be required to complete the training.

The first orientation will be held by the end of May, possibly on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, she said.

The sessions are expected last only a few hours.

"Once they get through that orientation and decide, yes they want to continue and that it is something they want to do, then it will be their regular volunteer time," she said. "They kind of let me know what they want to do.

"There is going to be a schedule -- it is not just going to be come when you can. I want to try to have them do at least 10 hours a month. That way I know what volunteers are coming."

If they don't come for the 10 hours, they will be removed from the program, she said.

"We had a volunteer program here and had hundreds and hundreds of people signed up, but in all honesty, I probably had a dozen regular volunteers," she said.

The five or six who have signed up so far were probably among that dozen, she said.

A decision last fall by the Wayne County Animal Control Advisory Board to halt the volunteer program was driven by two factors -- the safety of the animals and public safety, she said.

One concern was that the existing program made it too easy for disease to spread.

The center staff and Wayne County Animal Control Advisory Board met with a veterinarian from the N.C. State University College of Veterinary Medicine and the decision was made to completely redo the volunteer program.

Mrs. Falconer has completed a volunteer training program and has been able to listen to people from other shelters as to how they operate their volunteer programs.

"They can come in here and fill out an application for it," she said. "I want to do one big orientation. Right now I have five or six applications so far. Once I get a larger amount, I will work with their schedules and my schedule and try to get an orientation scheduled."

It will allow more time to explain the euthanasia that is done at the center, she said.

"Then if they choose not to (volunteer), they didn't go through all of the training and then find out," Mrs. Falconer said. "There will be a lot more shadowing time.

Volunteers will be required to complete a check-off list with a shelter employee before being allowed to work on their own.

The emphasis will be on animal care, she said.

Mrs. Falconer sees the retooled program as a way to help to better control disease, but at the same time provide a structure that was missing under the old system.

It takes more than handling animals to make the shelter run, she said.

There will also be changes for visitors to the shelter. They will have escorts as they visit with the animals.

"It is for the safety of the people," Mrs. Falconer said. "But it is also for the safety of the animals. Some of the animals, if they are scared, I don't want them jumping. There is more one on one. I have a staff member walking them through.

"If they have a question right then and there on the animal usually we may be able to help answer questions. If it is one kind of more where did they come from, at least the staff knows exactly which one they are looking at. Then they can go out and get the paperwork right then while they are doing it."

Staff members also now will bring animals to a room where people can interact with them, she said.

People who want to volunteer can pick up application at the center or download one from the county website, www.waynegov.com.