Stray or lost animals in the city can sometimes need a little help to find a forever home or a missing owner. It is not an easy task, but the people at the Scottsboro/Jackson County Animal Shelter are always on the lookout.
Mike Venable, an animal control officer, has worked at the shelter since August 2009.
“A typical day here involves answering a lot of calls,” he said. “We get complaints about stray dogs and cats. We also get calls about skunks, raccoons, possums, snakes and armadillos.”
There are even calls about foxes and coyotes.
“You’d be surprised at what’s out there,” Venable said. “We’ve built on their land. They used to live on the outskirts of town, but the developments have pushed them into the city.”
The officers use traps, catch poles and snares to capture the animals if at all possible.
“Usually, we relocate un-domesticated animals,” he said.
A lot of times there are owner-surrendered dogs and cats.
“People get dogs as puppies, and when the animal gets too big, they don’t want it anymore, so we try to find it a home.”
It does not cost anything to bring an animal to the shelter.
“We don’t charge anything, so that way owners won’t just take an animal somewhere and dump it,” he said. “It’s sad, but it happens.”
Every county is required to have an animal control office. The one in Scottsboro on Abby Lane serves as both a city and county office with three city officers including Venable, Kelly Parker and Heather Carlin.
The county officer is Billy Ray Adkins.
Currently, there are about 30 dogs and cats waiting for adoption.
“Our adoption fee is $10 for the shelter and whatever your veterinarian charges for a rabies shot and to have the animal spayed or neutered,” Venable said. “If it’s a stray, and it comes from the county, we have to hold it for seven days before it’s put up for adoption. If an animal is picked up within the city limits, it is held for 10 days. It depends a lot on the animal’s temperament. If it’s a dog that’s aggressive, it more than likely will not go up for adoption.
“Sometimes with owner-surrendered dogs, the person changes their mind and wants the animal back,” he said. “If it’s been more than seven days, we require them to go through the adoption process.”
The shelter has an adoption contract and often checks up on animals just to make sure everything is going well.
Sadly, it is not a ‘No-Kill’ shelter, so animals that are not adopted within a set time frame are euthanized.
“Euthanizing is just a shot,” Venable said. “It doesn’t hurt. The animal just goes to sleep. You can’t think about it. You take classes for compassion and fatigue.”
Venable said he only has one dog, but his wife, Danya, frequently comes to the shelter and wants to take home stray animals.
“Heather is the one who takes them home,” he said.
With a smile, Heather Carlin admits that is true.
“I only have three dogs, but I have about 50,000,000 fosters,” she joked.
Carlin regularly works with people across the country to find homes for the animals.
“She coordinates transports,” Venable said. “We work with groups in Chicago, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, as well as other states. Each of these places sends a van to pick the animals up once they’ve been placed.
“A lot of the northern states have laws that require spaying or neutering pets. They don’t have a lot of overpopulation of puppies, so they turn to the south,” he said.
The shelter also works with businesses like ‘Pet Sense.’
“We usually have cats there,” he said. “But every now and then, they have an adoption day, so we send dogs.”
They also work with rescue groups like ‘Friends of Rescue,’ in Huntsville, and frequently search Facebook to reunite owners with their missing pets.
“It’s a good place to look if you are missing your pet,” he said. “It’s a good thing to see families reunited.”
Because it is not a ‘No-Kill’ shelter, Venable said the shelter often gets a bad reputation that is not deserved.
“People think euthanizing is all we do,” he said. “It’s nowhere near that. We try our best to place animals in homes and get them adopted. We care for them, feed them and clean up after them. You’ve got to love animals to do this job.
“We stress the importance of spaying or neutering your pet so we can control the animal population and therefore avoid euthanizing animals,” he said. “We do everything we can.”
To find a pet, or a new forever friend, visit the shelter on Facebook at: scottsborojacksoncountyanimalshelter, or call them at: 256-259-6511.