The Highland County Dog Pound has been hit by several obstacles recently, but they’re still looking forward to Barktoberfest, volunteer Pat Lawrence told The Times-Gazette.
Both the dog warden, Cathy Seifer, and the president of the Friends of the Highland County Dog Pound stepped down from their positions recently, Lawrence said. Though the vice president Ted McReynolds is now acting as the president, and Assistant Dog Warden Lanny Brown is now acting as dog warden, things are still settling, Lawrence said.
“Lanny has a good heart, which is really essential for that position. I don’t know how one would find what characteristics one needs for a dog warden, but certainly it should start with a good heart,” Lawrence said. “Cathy was able to recognize the breeds and knew what rescue groups would be interested in what particular kind. It’s a real loss without her.”
Lawrence recently spoke to the Highland County commissioners on behalf of the dog pound.
”There is no provision at all, apparently, from the county to pay for any kind of veterinary care, vaccinations or treatment for the dogs at the pound,” Lawrence said. “Back when dogs were simply euthanized, that wasn’t an issue, but it’s a big issue now. It becomes an especially big issue anytime we have a hoarding situation or people with multiple dogs. You notice as income in the area goes down, we have more and more abandoned dogs, more and more stray dogs, more and more dogs that have not received any care, so when they come to the pound, they are in need, and there is no provision for that.”
Lawrence said that local veterinarians donate their time and treatment to help the pound, but they can’t feasibly do everything for free.
“I think our bill was $700 for vaccines for the recent major rescue,” Lawrence said. “We had a private donor who paid for the veterinary care, so we didn’t have to do that. We just had to pay for vaccines.”
On top of that, Lawrence said that the building where the dogs are kept isn’t adequate for what the dog pound has turned in to.
”When the pound was established, these animals were simply killed pretty much immediately, and that’s not the case anymore,” Lawrence said. “Something nobody wants to talk about is what we do with them in the meantime. In the meantime, they’re in this horrible facility that was never meant to house dogs. There is no outside access for the dogs at all. It’s dark, it’s poorly ventilated. I think everybody recognizes it’s an inadequate facility for what the pound has become. The commission doesn’t really see the need for a place that is appropriate for dogs, where people can come in and see if they want to adopt and have a setting where they can look at the dogs in a comfortable and safe place.”
Lawrence said Seifer was the one who started the Friends of the Highland County Dog Pound, a group of volunteers who raise money to provide care for the dogs at the pound, so the pound could transform from a final stop for unlucky dogs to a place that helps dogs find loving homes. The Highland County Dog Pound works with rescue agencies across Ohio to make sure the dogs find homes.
“A lot of times there’s just a response that the dogs should be punished because they’re stray and abandoned,” Lawrence said. “It’s not the dogs’ fault. Dogs don’t really have a choice. People here like big dogs, they like hunting dogs, they like pit bulls — those are the dogs that are left untended and those are the dogs that are found by the pound. It’s a people problem, not a dog problem. We have a responsibility to these dogs. The thing is that the pound doesn’t get calls from dogs to come and help them; it gets calls from people to come help them about dogs.”
Without donors and volunteers, handling situations like the one that arose when 32 dogs were seized from Johnny Rains Jr.’s SR 72 residence in June of this year would be difficult, Lawrence said.
“We couldn’t even adopt the dogs out at first because [Rains] wouldn’t give them up,” Lawrence said. “He finally did relinquish them. They were all sent to places where they could find foster homes. Three of the dogs were pregnant. We had local people foster them and let them have their babies. There were a number of foster fails, where people get attached, thank goodness.”
Lawrence said that volunteers came to the pound and walked the dogs, and a local donor was moved to donate $1,000 when they heard about the dogs taken from Rains. Lawrence also said that the pound received donations of dog bowls, towels and blankets from California and Michigan while they were caring for those dogs.
“I first got involved as a volunteer working with that situation,” Lawrence said. “I think that gives you the sense of urgency: to see what can happen to dogs when people fail.”
Barktoberfest is the dog pound’s only fundraiser, Lawrence said. Any money raised goes toward caring for the dogs who find themselves at the pound, whether it be through vaccines, medicine, medical care or transporting dogs to foster homes or other facilities where they have a better chance of being adopted, Lawrence said.
The event will be held in Holtfield Station’s parking lot in Hillsboro on Saturday, Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will have canopies, Lawrence said, in case it rains. It will feature a silent auction, vendors selling everything from Halloween costumes for dogs to pina colada cookies, and a bouncy house and games for kids. Lawrence said that though there won’t be any dogs at the event from the pound, attendees are welcome to bring their own pets. Attendees should park near the area where the Barktoberfest event is set up, Lawrence said, so as not to disrupt Holtfield’s business.
”We got some really good donations for Barktoberfest,” Lawrence said. “It’s not a big event. We’re a small organization without a lot of resources because we spend all the money on the dogs.”
Holtfield Station is located at 620 S. High St.
To donate to the Friends of the Highland County Dog Pound, send a check to 9357 SR 124 in Hillsboro at the attention of the Friends. Like or follow the “Friends of the Highland County Dog Pound” Facebook page to stay up-to-date. Those who are interested in volunteering at the pound can either message the Friends of the Highland County Dog Pound Facebook page or call Lawrence at 937-840-9222.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.