Adoption is a loving option at the Jefferson County Humane Society
Story and photos by Holly Davis
If an individual or family is looking for a new fuzzy companion, take a “paws for the cause” at the Jefferson County Humane Society’s animal shelter at Valley Falls where there is an average of 120 to 150 animals. The shelter presently has 110 cats and 41 dogs.
The requirements of adopting a pet from the humane society include filling out a basic two-page application to ensure that the soon-to-be owner has thought the decision through. A staff member will then read over the application to make sure the adoptive person is a fit candidate for the animal.
The adoption fee is $80 for dogs and $50 for cats. Every animal that is brought to the shelter is spayed and neutered, given all the proper vaccinations, and heartworm tested. Unlike many other shelters, the Jefferson County shelter treats heartworm.
Pets are also micro-chipped, which is a form of automatic identification technology implanted under the skin that takes the place of the familiar dog tag.
The Oskaloosa Animal Clinic is the primary medical provider for the shelter.
If the owner is not happy with the new pet, it may be brought back to the shelter. How long the owner had the animal will determine if they get a refund. Those who wish to adopt a new pet may exchange animals.
Those who wish to bring in an animal, such as a stray, must live in Jefferson County. There is no cost to bring in a stray, but the shelter would appreciate a $25 donation. Strays are welcome as long as there is space. There are 30 kennels for big dogs while smaller animals may share a separate space. “Kitty Cities” are small, enclosed rooms for cats to roam freely.
The society maintains a private shelter, which is a low-kill facility. The animals are only euthanized if they have severe medical or behavioral issues.
Shelter manager Kembry Gibbs said volunteers get attached to the animals and they don’t want them to be euthanized.
“We want people to know that if one is missing, it’s because it was adopted,” Gibbs said.
At the moment, they have a dog with severe epileptic seizures on daily treatment, which would be a rare scene at other shelters.
Volunteers and workers personally name each and every animal that comes in.
“They need names because they’re people,” Gibbs said.
The staff at the humane society advises people in the community to get involved.
“If only we had a world of people who had 10 minutes to walk a dog or pet a cat. You can tell that some of the animals get bummed because they know this isn’t where they’re supposed to be.”
Anyone over the age of 18 can become a volunteer. Those who are under 18 must be accompanied by an adult to help out. Volunteers have the options of walking dogs, cleaning kennels, working with the animals, and helping out at fundraising events.
“We’re really pretty laid back and informal,” said Gibbs, “If a volunteer comes in and sees something that needs done, we usually let them do it.”
The shelter is also looking for “handymen” to help with projects.
The shelter is run by five board members, four of whom are volunteers. Board members include Kip Elliott, president, Keith Haynie, vice president, Dolores Werder, treasurer, Virginia Richards, and Marilyn Sharkey.
The humane society is run almost entirely on donations. Because it is a private institution, taxpayers’ money no longer benefits the shelter. Aluminum cans are collected as a fundraiser.
“Like most shelters, we’re not swimming in money so every dollar counts,” said Gibbs. “When someone brings us cans, it’s like they’re bringing us a $20 bill.”
After a pet is adopted, the staff enjoys being updated on how one’s pet is doing. There is a wall dedicated to pictures that adoptive owners send in of their pets.
“When we’re having a bad day, we look up here and know that this is why we do it,” said Gibbs, “I used to work at a ‘normal job’ for 17 years where there was a lot of stress for no reason. Here, we don’t get paid a lot and you have to want to do it, but when I’m here, I know I have a reason.”
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