Have a heart: Post shelter pets need love, care, supplies Print E-mail
Thursday, 31 January 2013
Dianna Haedt, a volunteer at the Fort Leonard Wood Stray Animal Facility, walks and spends time with Oscar, one of the many animals available for adoption at the facility. Staff members are in need of community volunteers to help care for and socialize with animals.
Story and photo by Derek Gean
Community editor
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Caring for stray and abandoned dogs and cats requires more than a clean cage and water, according to Fort Leonard Wood Stray Animal Facility volunteer, Dianna Haedt, what the animals need more than anything is love.

The facility staff members are in desperate need of more volunteers to meet the needs of the animals housed at the facility. Regular volunteers are especially welcome because they help staff members know when they can expect assistance.

“There is an excessive amount of work for the staff which must focus on basic needs (cleaning and feeding) of the animals and record keeping,” said Capt. Emilee Alms,  branch officer in charge. “Providing socialization (with people), training, grooming and exercise for the animals, dogs especially, are tasks that we need the most help with.”

Haedt said because there are so many needs at the facility and so few volunteers; sometimes the animals have medical problems.

“Walking them is even more important than getting that kennel cleaned. If they don’t get walked they bark a lot and are so wild,” Haedt said.
The facility, which is located with the Fort Leonard Wood Veterinary Clinic, houses hundreds of stray dogs and cats annually.

“All animals are scanned for microchips and impounded in our facility as we attempt to locate the owner,” Alms said. “If an owner cannot be located and the animal is suitable for adoption it is housed and cared for by our facility.  At max capacity we care for about 30 to 40 animals per day all with only one full time employee and one part time employee.”

Haedt volunteers several hours each week. She spends her time cleaning kennels, walking dogs and also trying to get the animals adopted. She manages a Facebook page dedicated to getting the word out about adoptable animals and even sponsors adoption days at the Post Exchange.

Alms said it would be ideal if more community members would just take the time to help with the basic care of the animals.

“Tasks volunteers would do include walking dogs, cleaning and sanitizing animal housing, providing food and water to animals, cleaning and sanitizing feed/water dishes and litter pans, helping with laundry and occasionally administering topical and oral medication as needed,” Alms said.

One of the biggest problems facility workers face is dealing with abandoned animals.

“There are a lot of abandoned animals here and they are not microchipped,” Haedt said.

She said it’s understandable that military Families face PCSs and often it is impossible to carry the pet along. She wants people to understand that surrendering an animal the right way instead of abandonment is a much better and more humane choice.

“If an animal has a record it is more likely to get adopted. We have (abandoned) animals that come in with ticks, (and) fleas … worms and stuff that could have been prevented by bringing in the records and surrendering (the animal) the right way,” she said.

Since neglect is such a big problem, the need for volunteers and help is greater than it should be. Haedt encourages more people to regularly volunteer to help care for, or even just show the animals some affection.

“As a volunteer I just love on the animals and they love it,” Haedt said.

Also, volunteering gives people interested in adopting the opportunity to interact and learn about the animals available, she said.

“If someone is interested in adopting, coming and walking a dog a few days in a row, they start calming down and you get to see more of their temperament,” she said.

Aside from lacking volunteers, the facility also has a number of physical needs.

“One major need is some new dog and cat beds,” said Alms. “However, they must be washable and easy to clean.”

 Alms said there are examples of the proper bedding located at www.columbusdogconnection.com/elevated_dog_beds.htm.

“We can always use donations of cat litter, cat/dog toys/treats, scratching posts or cat furniture, Purina Cat Chow, Kitten Chow, Purina Dog Chow or Puppy Chow. We can also use blankets and towels, bleach and Lysol. People interested in donating can also purchase preventive medications such as heartworm preventative and Frontline/Revolution for fleas/ticks, both of which are available at the vet clinic.”

Alms said according to Humane Society of the United States estimates, 6 to 8 million dogs and cats enter shelters each year with 3 to 4 million of those being euthanized.

The fees for adopting from the Fort Leonard Wood facility are $102 for dogs and $77 for cats, which includes microchipping, spay/neuter, vaccines, and required diagnostic testing.

For more information on volunteering, adopting or helping with supplies, call the facility at 596.0094.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 13 February 2013 )