Kim Cooley was not looking for a job when she interviewed for a board position with the Highland County Humane Society. But that is what landed in her lap last month when she was appointed as the new humane agent for the county.
“I had been a volunteer with the society and interviewed for the board, but when that didn’t work out they asked me if I’d be interested in being the humane officer,” Cooley said Wednesday. “I just thought it would be kind of interesting and something I might like to do.”
A Winchester area native who taught elementary school in the North Adams School District for 15-plus years and now runs her own vending business, Cooley said she is the person to call when someone in Highland County thinks animals of any kind are being mistreated.
“I investigate calls dealing with animals in distress, or those that are not properly being taken care of,” Cooley said. “We don’t pick up strays. That’s the Highland County Dog Pound.”
Since she was appointed humane officer on Jan. 4, Cooley said she’s been out on 20 to 30 calls. She said she has yet to find a case of an animal being mistreated, and that unfortunately, many of the calls she responds to turn out to be from people trying to get other people in trouble, or people who aren’t sure if an animal is being properly cared for or not.
She said she tries to be non-confrontational when she responds to a call.
“I take the approach that I’m going to help you – you catch more flies with honey,” she said. “Our job is to educate and help people.”
If she finds an animal in distress, Cooley said the hoped for resolution is that the owner surrenders the animal, or starts properly caring for it.
To become a humane agent, Cooley said she had to take Basic Humane Agent Training at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy in London, Ohio. That included three days of studying legalities, animal husbandry and rules regulations, then taking a test that she passed in December.
In addition to her on-call duties, Cooley also works Wednesdays at the Highland County Humane Society Animal Shelter, located east of Hillsboro on SR 124. That’s only day the shelter is not open for adoptions. Every other day it is open from noon to 5 p.m.
The shelter can house about 16 dogs and a dozen cats at any given time, and it keeps them until someone adopts them, which Cooley said happens a little more quickly than she expected.
The adoption fee is $75 for older dogs, $85 for puppies and $10 for cats. That includes vaccination, worming and the animals being treated for fleas, if needed. There is an application to fill out and Cooley said that if volunteers at the shelter do not feel the fit is right, they will discourage the adoption, or possibly require a home visit.
The Humane Society also likes all adopted to animals to be spayed or neutered. Some have already had that done, but for those animals that have not, the Humane Society offers the Rascal Unit, a mobile lab that visits the fire station in Leesburg every other month. Its next visit will be on March 22. The cost is $47 for female cats and $57 for male cats. Dogs under 20 pounds are $62 and the price increases with the weight of the animal.
If someone suspects an animal is being mistreated, Cooley said they should call the shelter at 937-393-2110. Then someone at the shelter will contact her.
“Even though we get a lot of calls that don’t pan out as being an abusive case, it’s better to call us than not,” Cooley said.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.