President-Elect Cyndee Adkins welcomes speaker Jon Davis, Director & Chief Humane Officer for Putnam Animal Shelter.
Jon Davis
Putnam Shelter advocating for pets and strays

May 18, 2017

As Putnam's population grew, so did the numbers of dogs and cats -- and so did other pets and strays in the area.

The former shelter was overwhelmed by lost and unwanted animals confined to a 900 square foot metal shed behind the courthouse in Winfield.

But things began to improve when Karen Haynes, spouse of Rotarian Joe Haynes, decided to take action and ease the miserable conditions for Putnam's forgotten animals.

She went to work, and four years ago, a new facility was opened by the county on property leased by the Department of Highways near the junction of Routes 34 and 62 in Red House.

John Davis, Putnam's humane officer for eleven years, spoke with Putnam Rotarians today about the new facilities and programs underway under his stewardship of the new Putnam County Animal Shelter.

There are 2,000 square feet under roof, he said, with 46 large dog cages, 33 cat cages, and 34 puppy cages. There is a separate area for stray dogs on intake, where they can be held for health observation before placement with the general population.

The new shelter has a "quarantine" kennel for animals involved in bites or court cases. There is an isolation room for sick animals and space for a veterinary clinic. Each section has its own air circulation system.

There is a "bonding" room where potential adopters may spend some time with a dog or cat, and see how things work out before undertaking an adoption process.

There is also a barn and pasture area for impounded and surrendered livestock, Davis said.

"We have a two-mile dog-walking trail built by a local Boy Scout group," he added.

"But we're always looking for ways to improve." Davis has initiated several special programs which can be staffed by volunteers.

There is the "Tales for Tails" reading activity which schedules early elementary-age school children to come in and visit an animal. "They practice reading a book to them," Davis explained. "It not only helps improve the child's reading ability. It also benefits the animal through social interaction."

A cooperative rescue program has opened with programs in other states and Canada. "There are monthly transports of animals for adoption," he said. "Sometimes they take up to 22 animals at a time, which really helps with the number of animals that we have to keep.

"For animals which remain in the shelter, we increase their visibility through social media.

"We've made appearances at adoption events with business partners around the county -- with Walmart, Petco, Cricket Wireless, Sprint ond others who have invited us to bring animals and who have helped find new homes for them.

"One of my proudest achievements," Davis said, "has been establishing the spay/neuter fund. The program provides free sterilization of pets for residents who otherwise might deny their animals being spayed or neutered due to the cost. The result is that we see fewer puppies and kittens being turned in at the shelter.

"We're the only county in the surrounding area that covers 100% of the cost.

"The program is funded by donations only," he added quickly. "No taxpayer money is ever used.

"We have raised funds through our Dog Jog 5 K run, which usually takes place in May, and our Hot Diggity Dog 5 K that we have on Thanksgiving Day."

The next big fund raiser is set for June 24th when the Precious Pets Salon in Eleanor will be sponsoring a catfish tournament at J's Fishing Lake in Midway. Since its recent inception, the spay/neuter program has benefitted over 150 families, and prevented over 1,000 unwanted puppies and kittens coming to the shelter.

"We're always in need of volunteers," said Davis, "to help clean, to walk dogs or bathe puppies."

The "Tails for Trails" obedience program will begin in June with an experienced dog trainer. "Once it gets off the ground," said Davis, "we plan to open free obedience classes to the public on Saturdays."

The shelter has entertained some exotic animals -- birds, geckos, iguanas, turtles, ferrets. Anything except wild animals. Those go to the Department of Natural Resources.

Putnam humane officers are on call around the clock, and they have a lot of stories to tell, many of them sadly about animal abuse and neglect.

But they had one call from a couple in Hurricane. Seems like a vagrant chihuahua would slip in through the garage doggie door, do his business on their floor, and then slip back out into the darkness.

"We finally caught the little guy," said Davis. "We named him the Wetting Bandit."

Possibly a first candidate for the new obedience school? "Oh, yes!" responded Davis, "We also can make use of all your old newspapers."

      Rotarian Cyndee Adkins has prepared a video of the program today. To access the video, click HERE!     

More Putnam Rotary News? Click HERE.