New Dog Housing, Other Changes Coming to Shelter

New dog boxes are on their way to the Belmont County Animal Shelter, and county commissioners indicate some additional changes could be happening there in the coming months.

Commissioners have authorized the construction of 50 dog houses for the shelter by students at the Belmont Career Center, and the first 10 will arrive this week.

Late last year, the Belmont County Animal Rescue League – the organization contracted to run the shelter – came under fire after former BCARL board member Cyndi Yanez raised questions about operations at the center.

The Animal Cruelty Task Force of Ohio visited the shelter in late December, and among its recommendations was that 30 elevated and insulated dog houses be built and purchased for the shelter. Verna Painter, the former manager of the shelter, has since retired, and commissioners are looking for someone to permanently assume leadership there.

In early January, a major waterline burst at the shelter, damaging office and clinic space but not affecting kennel areas.

Now, commissioners report they are in daily contact with those now running the shelter.

“We did some remodeling after the waterline break – everything is good,” said Commission President Matt Coffland. “We are working on some things, and we are looking at maybe changing direction.”

Commissioner Mark Thomas said the public hasn’t “heard too much” about happenings at the shelter in recent months because the commissioners and BCARL “have it under control.”

“The shelter is being run more efficiently,” he said. “The staff is more responsive to those coming in to adopt a pet, and the commissioners are keeping in daily contact with the shelter to make sure those things transpire. … We are in the process of developing another contract with BCARL, and looking at some other scenarios that might help us as a board to run the shelter more efficiently.”

Commissioners will look to appoint a dog warden in the coming months, while a humane officer will be appointed by the county probate judge, according to Thomas.

Diane Amend has been serving as the shelter’s coordinator since Painter’s retirement, and she said she is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the first new dog boxes.

“I feel things are going well,” she said. “Adoptions are up, and we’re seeing an influx of volunteers – many of them new people. We’re just working on updating policies and procedures. It’s been a long couple of years, and I’ve had to update quite a few things.”