AP NEWS

Humane society takes second chance to make changes

March 22, 2019

After a pair of failed inspections last year, the Somerset County Humane Society was in the doghouse. Now, with new management, the shelter is hoping for a second chance.

“The shelter is about second chances,” said shelter manager Meaghan Gould. “It is a place for new beginnings and healing. We are constantly striving to be better than we were yesterday and are so excited for the coming year.”

In September, former shelter President Sally Urban was fined $190 after state dog wardens observed rusted pipes, chewed dog houses, holes in the building and rodent feces in the food storage area.

The humane society was not cited. The state Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement cites the person in charge and not the organization itself.

Gould said Thursday that all of the problems identified by the wardens were corrected and approved by an inspector.

“Everyone makes mistakes,” she said. “And there’s always room for doing things better.”

Vice President Charlie Korns said the society has hired a welfare specialist who designated some changes.

“Since day one, we’ve given the animals the best we can,” he said. “That will continue indefinitely.”

He said the society is working to improve its processes and procedures, and help is being sought from community members.

“As an organization, we hope to be more committee-driven,” Korns said, adding that shelter responsibilities will be delegated to committees rather than a single individual. “We want to get Somerset’s best and brightest involved.”

Other volunteers are needed as well. President Alisa Murphy said the shelter always needs people to walk dogs, pet cats and answer phones.

“We rely 100 percent on donations,” she said. The shelter always needs cat litter, food, cleaning supplies and toys.

Each of the dogs gets an individualized meal, and some get specialty food to help their allergies and health issues. In their kennels they have a raised bed, blanket and toys.

For most, a toy filled with peanut butter is the highlight of their day. They also have an hour of exercise time, usually outside, weather permitting. The shelter also has rooms inside for the dogs to run and play.

Volunteers also take the dogs for short walks on a trail near the shelter. Gould said that a dog even found a pregnant cat during one walk. It gave birth to five kittens in the shelter.

“They make a big difference,” Gould said of the volunteers.

The shelter’s structures will also see some changes this year. Near the main building is a building for additional kennels for quarantined dogs.

Gould said the society is also constructing a few doors that can be operated from across the room. She said there are situations where staff can’t touch certain dogs, so the new doors allow staff to let the dogs outside.

The shelter can fit a maximum of 42 dogs and about 30 cats, but it also has a barn for livestock, such as horses, cows and sheep.

“The number of animals in need is phenomenal and we need help providing daily care to these most-deserving creatures,” Gould said.

“What we do here is joyful, from the animals we provide care for to the families we meet and help find their new pet. Each animal has something to teach us and offers us companionship, understanding and purpose.”