ST. CLAIRSVILLE - The Belmont County Animal Rescue League met Wednesday to elect three new board members and discuss future plans and directions for the organization.
The board welcomed Jessica Barclay, Mary Ellen Gust and Denise Troy, new members. They join Benjamin Podolski, President; Matthew Chapman, Esq. , Vice President; Mary Lee Porter, Ed.D. , Secretary; Jody Hill, Treasurer; Kenneth Souillard and Janelle Loh.
The board heard a presentation of the shelter report. Afterward, Belmont County Commissioner Ginny Favede, Commissioner explained how BCARL is funded and that no tax revenues are provided to BCARL. The county is only responsible per Ohio Revised Code to provide services for dogs and they contract with BCARL to do this. The dog warden is an employee of the county. The humane officer is sworn in by the judge but paid by BCARL. BCARL also provides care for other animals in addition to dogs.
The county owns and maintains the building, but BCARL owns the contents and provides all services.
"It was an excellent meeting," said Favede afterward. "It was ell attended. It was an opportunity for a lot of issues to be resolved. The board and commissioners came together for the betterment of the shelter. Three new board members came into the fold."
Favede described the role of the commissioners as specified by the Ohio Revised Code. The commissioners are required to employee a dog warden or deputy dog warden. They contract with the Humane Society because they employee a humane officer certified and approved by the probate court.
"The dog warden has some responsibilities, the humane officer brings other responsibilities," she said.
Hill presented the financial report.
Favede hopes the commissioners can deed it to BCARL so they can build a new animal-friendly and space-efficient shelter.
Board discussed the appropriation of funding by BCARL, the commissioners or both for a shelter architect to design plans for long term physical improvements to include indoor/outdoor runs, better drainage, ventilation and more rooms both for visitors and to care for stray cats.
Podolski contacted Warren Chase Freedenfeld, AIA, of Rauhaus, Freedenfeld, and Associates of Boston who specialize in animal shelter design.
Also, with Verna Painter's retirement ACT Ohio recommends working with the BCARL board and the commissioners in a consultant capacity to assist the shelter with a transition plan January 2014 November 2014, and implement best practices for the shelter while assisting in recruiting a replacement for Painter.
BCARL has recommended Lisa Williams be appointed dog warden and a new assistant dog warden be hired.
Mandae Lewis, Humane Officer, has been on workmen's compensation for the past month due to a back injury. She and Hatfield have been handling humane and emergency calls. BCARL will identify two people to be trained in late July or early August in preparation for the exam.
BCARL has identified three people to be trained for helping the dog warden and humane officer.
Other matters include a large influx of kittens and dogs seen in the past month.
Board reviewed the ACT Ohio recommendations and action steps, including permission to return in one week with a team from the Humane Society of the United States to remove and lace into reputable and verified rescues, as many dogs as needed to ensure that no dogs have to sleep outside as an immediate improvement.
Neither the HSUS nor representatives of ACT visited the shelter again.
Board also reported the purchase of 30 elevated and insulated dog houses built by the Ohio Reformatory for Women to ensure the comfort of the dogs during winter, while the shelter is being cleaned in the morning and early afternoon as an immediate improvement. There is one dog house per kennel.
In addition, Commissioner Matt Coffland had the JVS build dog houses to meet the requirements. These were received at the shelter in increments and used when delivered.
Board also heard reports of workshops on compassion fatigue, burnout, customer service and electronic data management.
Board also reviewed progress in updating electronic record keeping, fiscal record maintenance and training members in proper methods.
The board addressed a review of adoption, rescue, euthanasia, animal care, cleaning, volunteers, length of stay, and medical care policies and procedures by ACT Ohio, Belmont County Commissioners and BCARL Board with the adoption best practices for shelter management that will not deviate from BCARL's mission and purpose, but rather strengthen it.
A record keeping system for medications and their dispensation was created by Porter and presented to Dr. Orban, who approved the system. A locked cabinet for medicine storage was purchased and bolted to the wall.
Employees were trained in the proper procedures for recording and storing of meds, hypodermic needles, and sterilization procedures for the kennel and surgery room.
Employees were trained to wash hands between the handling of different animals.
In February, BCARL met and created an adoption committee to consist of the shelter director, dog warden, and humane officer.
When reviewing adoptions, BCARL will continue to contact the applicant's veterinarian and landlord. They will also check for any record of inhumane care of animals or other information which might indicate the unworthiness of the applicant.
The BCARL executive board, in a meeting on April 4, 2014, developed a committee to review the policies and procedures. The committee will consist of Chapman, Hill, Podolski and Porter.
A policy and application review process for volunteers was instituted. Volunteers must be 16, provide proof of insurance, and be trained. They must report to the office manager to receive their assignments. The must learn proper handling and care of the animals, safety, and confidentiality guidelines. Volunteers may be released by the management or board at any time.
The voted to form a euthanasia committee to consist of the shelter director, dog warden, a BCARL board member and humane officer. BCARL euthanizes when a veterinarian feels that an animal is beyond palliative care, and/or vicious and/or has a history of biting or attacking. Euthanization is not done to control population or after a set period of time.
The board adopted a policy to restrict shelter patrons from moving through the yard or shelter unaccompanied by a shelter employee. They will work to purchase a fence to close off the area near the rear.
A "get acquainted" room was established.
The board is reviewing the information provided by the American Association of Shelter Veterinarians as guidelines. All employees and visitors must sanitize their hands.
In March there were concerns that some animals had been sent to disreputable "rescues." Many adopted animals were returned. The turkey was traded for a cat with a litter of kittens, all of which tested positive for feline leukemia. The cat and kittens and been put up for adoption without having been tested. There were also concerns that the adoption committee was being bypassed. The officer manager was advised the all adoptions must be approved by the committee.
Further quarantine and sanitary measures were taken against the spread of Pavro.
A committee has been appointed to revamp the bylaws for approval by the board.
Work is ongoing on a new contract with the commissioners. The current contract expires at the end of 2014.
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