LOGAN — During the summer, the temperatures have reached above 90 degrees numerous times, resulting in awareness to keep animals safe from the sweltering heat. The Hocking County Dog Shelter, which is being used to house several dogs, has proven they are in no fault of opposing that awareness, despite allegations.
The Hocking Humane Society has more than 40 dogs in its possession, and the shelter has 13, according to Hocking County Sheriff Deputy David Wright, who is the interim dog warden.
Over the weekend, dogs were seen in cages outside of the dog shelter at the Hocking County Fairgrounds during the day, implying the idea of the dogs being kept out in the heat for long periods of time, but Wright, and Hocking County Humane Society President Carol Bownes, reported the dogs were out there temporarily so workers could clean the inside.
After cleaning was finished, Wright reported the dogs were taken inside where the temperature was set at a cool 72 degrees with multiple fans running.
Earlier this year, the Hocking County Commissioners temporarily closed the Dog Shelter and the animals were transferred to the Humane Society. However, last week the Commissioners signed a contract, and agreed to allow the Humane Society to use the shelter and carry out all the duties of the Hocking County Dog Shelter.
“It is desirable to the Board that the Society furnish and provide the materials and services necessary for the housing, feeding, caring for, adopting, placing and disposing of unlicensed and stray dogs,” stated the contract.
The contract is good for 18 months, ending Dec. 31, 2020. At the end of 18 months, it is still unknown by the Commissioners, Hocking County Sheriff’s Office and Humane Society what will happen to the shelter at the fairgrounds.
The contract also states the Commissioners agree to quarterly payments in the amount of $11,500, with a total of $69,000 being paid over the life of the contract.
Hocking County Prosecutor Benjamin Fickel explained that even though the Humane Society is operated as a private, non-profit business, they will have to work under the same high standards from Ohio Revised Code that are expected of a county dog shelter.
“The Society and the Board agree that all employees of the Society shall be considered ‘at will’ employees and all expenses and benefits incidental to such employment and operation shall be paid by the Society,” stated in the contract.
The terms of employment, the number of employees, and the number of hours worked by the Society’s employees will be at the discretion of the Society.
The Humane Society also has exclusive use of the Hocking County Dog Shelter — at their discretion — for the housing, caring, feeding, and disposal of all the dogs taken in. The Society is to provide the Commissioners copies of keys or access codes so they may enter during emergency situations, in which they will give proper notice.
While the majority of the animals are located at the Humane Society, some are kept at the shelter; however, the shelter is closed to the public to protect the dogs, which are involved in an active court case. According to Wright, the dogs are being held until the investigation is completed.
“In an investigation, sometimes it is warranted we take possession of some dogs,” he said.
The dogs caged outside during Sunday’s cleaning period were dogs involved in an ongoing court case.
“It is so much easier to clean up when you have dogs in a pinned area,” Wright added. “They’re not supposed to be in the public and it is something the public should never have access to.”
The dog shelter moved most of its animals to the Humane Society due to the extensive amount of improvements and cleaning needed done at the shelter, but the Humane Society is also expanding and making improvements to benefit the animals.
The renovations at the Humane Society began last week and are to be completed within two weeks. The additions will add more space for about 20 more dogs, according to Bownes.
“It’s going to be a bigger thing than what it used to be years ago,” Bownes commented.
Renovations include a three-sided barn outside, built by an Eagle Scout for his project, with water and electricity available to it, and also a meet and greet room for potential new owners to meet an animal prior to adoption.
While the renovations are continuing in both the shelter and Humane Society, the dogs are well cared for with many of the workers going around-the-clock.
Wright said employees and volunteers combine their efforts at the shelter and Human Society.
“It’s a combined family effort,” he said. “Between the workers, myself and volunteers, the shelter, at no point, is not where it should be.”
Wright said he worked personally to clean and sanitize the shelter for months to make it a nice shelter.
“The dogs are cleaned up after, cared for, watered and attention given twice a day, every day of the week,” he reported.
People with questions are advised to contact Wright directly, and can even go on a tour of the shelter with Wright to see for themselves.
With the amount of dogs filling both facilities, no harm has been done to them, or euthanizing. The law in the State of Ohio regarding the euthanizing of animals in shelters tells how a facility only is considered a “No Kill Shelter” if the workers kill less than 10 percent of their intake.
Wright reported, without question, he could say Hocking County Humane Society and the shelter are “No Kill Shelters.”
“We do not put down animals for overcrowding, or sicknesses,” he said. “The only reason we put down an animal is if they are beyond veterinary care, or someone with an extensive knowledge says the animals aren’t able to make it.”
Bownes reported a dog in their care was adopted and returned a total of five times because people could not handle a large young dog. Wright added, noting that they also do not put animals down for that reason.
Although the number continues to grow in the two facilities, the dogs, and all animals, are well cared for and will have their homes at the facilities until they are adopted.
The court case animals are put up for adoption as well, once the court cases and investigations are resolved.
For clarification purposes, the Hocking County Dog Shelter is not closed permanently, only for cleaning and renovations that are continuing. The future plans for the building are unknown at this time, according to Prosecutor Fickel.
The Commissioners will conduct a continuous evaluation of the efficiency and effectiveness of the new improvements and services.
According to Hocking County Commissioner Gary Waugh, the accusations made over the weekend on social media are completely false.
“I am at a loss for words with how people are reacting,” he said. “It is entirely untrue.”
The public is being asked to contact the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office, 740-385-2131, if they have reports of dogs-at-large, and the Hocking County Humane Society, 740-380-9109 if interested in adoptions.
Grace Warner, reporter for The Logan Daily News, contributed to this article.