Van Wert County Humane Society Shelter
Van Wert County Humane Society Shelter

VAN WERT – The Van Wert County Humane Society Shelter is hoping to clear up some misconceptions after having an increase in angry calls to their office concerning animals.

In 2014, the shelter formerly known as the dog pound became the Van Wert County Humane Society Shelter. With this change, the Humane Society partnered with the Van Wert County Sheriff Department to run a better facility and to make sure animals were taken care of, while also making sure there was still someone to take care of the law enforcement side of things.

Casey Long was hired as the only full-time worker positioned at the shelter, while Officer Jeff May was deputized as the dog warden.

Volunteer Deb Sealscott noted that the difference between a dog pound and the current Humane Society Shelter is that the current shelter is a low kill shelter, meaning they only euthanize animals that are sick or injured that will not survive. When the location was the dog pound, the dog warden was able to euthanize healthy animals.

Around 75 percent of the stray animals that come to the shelter are brought in by May. The shelter then receives $10 a day, for three days ($30 total) for new dogs.

“The county pays us for these dogs,” said Sealscott. “After that point, they become our financial responsibility.”

Volunteer Candy Clay noted that after the fallout of the dog pound and the rebranding of the new shelter, the job duties and the way the shelter operated changed.

“For decades the dog warden has been here and this has been a dog pound; that is not the case now,” said Clay. “There is a difference between the warden operation and the Humane Society operation.”

May, who is in charge of catching stray dogs, enforcing tags, and neglect issues, does not work out of the Humane Society Shelter, noted the volunteers. They added that if people need to reach him for one of those issues, they need to call the Sheriff Department.

The Humane Society is solely in charge of housing the animals and seeing to their care once they are in the shelter.

“The Humane Society is all about the animals,” said Long noting that the shelter itself is not about money. “That’s why we don’t put them down. That’s why we try to help do spay and neutering; we try to make it better for them. This is no longer just where you dump your animal when you no longer want it and say ‘whatever happens happens.’”

Clay went on to explain that dog tag sales go in a Dog and Kennel Fund, which is set up by the State for each county, and is meant to help shelters stay afloat. However, she stated that the Dog and Kennel Fund also pays the salary of the dog warden, and leaves very little for the shelter to use. She added that the shelter is very dependent of the generous donations of the community.

“That is why they have him solely doing tag enforcement now,” said Clay. “Driving in that revenue will help that Dog and Kennel Fund grow.”

Clay noted that citizens have been expressing their frustration because May has been checking properties and citing owners for failure to register their dogs, but noted that the law is a state law, not one that Van Wert or the Humane Society created.

Clay also explained that no one at the Humane Society building has the authority to interfere with a neglect or abandonment situation, and that they do not have the ability to pick up strays.

“I want people to understand that we are two separate entities,” said Clay. “The dog warden operation and the Humane Society operation abide by two separate laws. All neglect, breaking the law, tag enforcement, strays, has to go to the Sheriff’s Department and if they aren’t helping you with that, call the Commissioners because the Commissioners are the Sheriff’s boss. We can not do anything that requires law.”

Long added, however, that if people have lost or found a pet they should also contact the Humane Society to let them know in case an owner called looking for the pet.

“Even though we can’t come and get them, it might be a good thing to call and report lost or found dogs,” said Long.