Rhonda Lang plays with one friendly pup while changing bedding in the cages at the Clay County Humane Shelter.
Humane Shelter director changing perceptions
Clay County Humane Society Shelter Director Rick Moore wants to change the public's perception of the organization and feels many of the new changes at the facility will help do just that.
"The Humane Society is not a dog pound," he said "Every animal is important to us, whether here at the shelter or out there loose somewhere. I really want to educate the public about what is available at the shelter."
The first hurdle to conquer is having people considering pet adoption before driving to a pet store.
"All animals adopted from the shelter are altered before going home," Moore said. Shelter animals cannot be bred. "But for someone looking for a family pet, it would be nice if they thought of coming here to choose one."
With 974 stray or unwanted puppies, kittens, dogs and cats taken to the facility in 2005, and more arriving all the time, there are always animals available.
The second hurdle concerns the health of shelter animals.
"All animals receive needed medical treatment upon arrival, they have their shots taken care of, which can be expensive. Our animals available for adoption are in great health," he said. "We have also recently implemented a new diet program to help the animals develop and maintain good health."
Food is provided by Hill's Science Dog and Cat Food Program for only the cost of shipping.
"Board Secretary Roxanna Tisdale was really the driving force behind us getting this," Humane Society Board President Bill Bell said. "She was instrumental in implementing it, and we are seeing a huge difference in animals' overall health because of it."
Local veterinarians and area shelters recommended the consistent diet plan for many reasons, but most important was the benefit to the animals, Tisdale said.
"Changing an animal's food all the time will cause them to have diarrhea," she said. "This is better for them. They are happier and much more satisfied with less food."
With the animals eating less of the free food and remaining healthy, the plan was a great deal for the shelter, but it did cause a slight problem.
Since the animals can only eat the food from the diet plan, food donated by the public was distributed to other shelters. Some of the donated pet food has even been sent to feed animals in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, Tisdale said.
"We're here for the animals," Moore said. "I want the public to know that."