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Tuesday June 17, 2008 Edition
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Addison County Humane Society - It's More Than A Shelter

Tuesday June 17, 2008

By Rebecca K. Fay

    The Addison County Human Society (“ACHS”) was founded in 1975.  Since that time, ACHS has been evolving and adding new services to respond to the needs of Addison County.  In October of 2007, Jackie Rose, J.D., M.S. became the Executive Director of ACHS.  Jackie is excited with her new job and is implementing many new techniques to enhance the services that ACHS offers.  Jackie has twenty-five years of experience running a non-profit substance abuse center.  Jackie explains, “I've always wanted to [work with animal services].”  

    In November of 2007, Jennifer Erwin was hired as the Shelter Supervisor.  Prior to taking this position, Jennifer was a member of the ACHS Board of Directors for four years.   Jackie and Jennifer are upbeat and are ready to continue the goals of the ACHS.  There are additional 6 to 7 part-time employees and “up to 75 volunteers-walking dogs, socializing cats, and working on public relations.” 

    Currently ACHS acts as a shelter, adoption center, a lost & found hub, has a feral cat outreach project, and performs humane investigations.  Most people are familiar with ACHS efforts to care and find homes for animals that are surrendered or are strays.    When I visited the shelter in the end of May, the building was full of cats, kittens, dogs, rabbits, and rodents.  Although the shelter was bursting from its seams, Jackie explains that when ACHS takes an animal in, it is committed to care for that animal.  The care includes food, health services, and socialization by the staff and volunteers.

    The animals are typically at the shelter for a month, and some have been at the shelter for over a year.  Jackie adamantly states, “We are a no-kill shelter.”  This means that ACHS will not euthanize an animal just to free up space.  Jackie and her staff are devoted to caring for the animals and providing a home for them.  Jackie explains, “We will not euthanize [unless there is] severe aggression or the animal is terminally ill and suffering.”

    Last year ACHS took in 535 animals, 89% were from Addison County. According to the 2007 Annual Shelter Report (“Report”), there were 160 dogs, 331 cats, and 44 other animals.  The other animals included 9 birds, 17 rodents, 13 rabbits and 5 horses.  According to the Report, “of this group, 463 were placed with new families, 27 were returned to their owners, and 27 were euthanized due to aggression or illness, and 15 died at the shelter.”

    Another wonderful service the ACHS provides is to act as a central hub when an animal has been lost or found.  Jackie explains that if you lose or find a pet, let the ACHS know and we will help to reunite pets and owners.  To prevent losing an animal, you can contact ACHS and they offer a reduced rate to have a microchip implanted on your pet.  While this sounds painful, the procedure is painless, and if your animal is ever lost, the authorities can scan the chip and reunite you and your pet. 

    ACHS is also working to reduce pet overpopulation.  One way they are doing this is through the Feral Cat Outreach project.  Feral cats are domestic cats that are living in the wild.  Many of these cats are found on farms throughout Addison County.  If the property owner is willing, ACHS will go on the property and safely trap feral cats, have them fixed, and return them to the property.  This is done at no cost to the property owner, and the result is to limit animal overpopulation.

   One of ACHS's most successful services is the Humane Investigation.  This program involves ACHS working with town officials and investigating allegations of animal abuse and neglect.  The program was created in 2004, and based on its success it was adopted as the model for the State of Vermont.  Jackie explains that most of the time when she investigates these allegations, she can work with the animal owner about how to better care for their pet.  In exceptional situations, Jackie explains, where the animal is “in such bad shape, I will ask them to surrender [the animal], so [the animal] can get proper care.”

    Lastly, ACHS also works with human service organizations to help people who are fleeing in emergency domestic violence situations.  Jackie explains that often times people remain in a dangerous situation because they do not want to leave their pet.  In this situation ACHS will help find a foster home for the pet while the victim gets back on his/her feet.   

    ACHS performs all these services and operates on an annual budget of $285,000.  ACHS is pinching every penny to meet the needs of Addison County. Jackie explains, ACHS “is always in need of money…we need donations from the community.”  To raise some much needed money, ACHS is hosting a “Ruff Ride.”  Weather permitting, on June 28, 2008, motorcyclists will travel throughout Addison County to promote ACHS.  The ride starts and ends in New Haven.  After the ride there will be a BBQ.  Each rider is encouraged to get sponsors to donate money for their ride.  If you have questions about the event or would like to donate time or money contact the ACHS at 1-802-388-1443 for more information.


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