WATERTOWN — Each year, in conjunction with National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week, which runs from Nov. 3 to 9, the Jefferson County Dog Shelter, 21897 County Route 190, holds an open house to welcome the public, show off adoptable dogs, and educate guests about the services the shelter provides.
Guests can visit dogs in the shelter’s indoor and outdoor viewing areas, take shelter tours, enjoy refreshments and displays from various sources like the Jefferson County Public Health Department and the county’s animal cruelty task force, and win free door prizes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Sunday.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department will also have a K-9 dog at the event and will hold a demo in the parking lot around 12:30 p.m. as well as offering Kid Safe ID cards from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Though he officially retired on June 27, Todd L. Cummings is serving as the interim director at the shelter three days a week until the county finds a new director.
According to Mr. Cummings, there will be a total of approximately 22 to 24 dogs, ranging from small to large breeds, available for adoption Sunday, and every dog will have rabies vaccine, which is a savings of $21 for new owners thanks to the Public Health Department.
“The open house gives an opportunity for dogs that have sat in here for a long time, sometimes they get adopted right away,” he said. “It’s all about getting these animals a home and giving them a second chance.”
The first year the shelter held an open house there were 33 dogs up for adoption — 23 dogs and 10 puppies, but as time goes on the shelter sees less and less puppies because more dogs are being spayed and neutered.
With the vaccines covered, most dogs will have a $45 adoption fee Sunday, and the shelter will have two dog wash vans outside this year so each dog that gets adopted will have a free bath before going home.
Twenty years ago, Mr. Cummings made the open house sign that the shelter has used each year since, made of plywood and painted red and white. Recently, the shelter signed a new three year agreement with 15 of the towns in Jefferson County as well as the city of Watertown to continue service to the area.
Some services available through the shelter include door to door licensing of all dogs in the 15 towns and the city of Watertown, picking up stray/lost/unlicensed or injured dogs, investigating all dog bites with follow ups, assisting the Public Health Department when needed for Rabies control, and assisting law enforcement with animal cruelty investigations and other complaints, among others.
While the shelter is a kill facility, only three dogs have had to be euthanized this year — a record for the department.
“We don’t euthanize dogs for the sake of room here, and numbers keep going down which is great,” Mr. Cummings said. “Because this is a kill facility a lot of people are scared of that and think that’s all we do, but it’s all contracted out to vets and nothing is done in house.”
According to Mr. Cummings, it is important for the shelter to be able to educate the public about what they do there and the services they provide, as well as giving the dogs a chance to find loving homes, and the shelter has seen good turn outs over the years for the open house events.
“To me it’s not about the numbers, it’s about educating the public about what the county offers, and we obviously want to find all the dogs homes,” he said. “We like to have the families come and meet with the dogs before we adopt out to them, and I’m hoping the event will continue for years to come.”
For more information about the event or the dogs available at the shelter, call (315) 779-5900.