Cindy Cole is one of several people who donate time to care for the animals at the shelter.  (Staff photo by Angela Bornstein)
Cindy Cole is one of several people who donate time to care for the animals at the shelter. (Staff photo by Angela Bornstein)
The Jefferson County Animal Shelter is cleaner, and that and other improvements have resulted in the animals being healthier and the adoption rates increasing.

The shelter has a new shelter coordinator, a small nursery for bottle-feeding kittens and puppies that aren’t weaned, and an adoption room where patrons can see how well their current pets can get along with one they might adopt.

During Animal Shelter Appreciation Week, the Jefferson County Animal Shelter hosted an open house.

“We had a big turnout,” said Tami Hagemier, chairman of the shelter liaison committee. “Over 50 came to tour the facility.”

Deia Pittman is the new shelter coordinator. She does pets of the week for The Madison Courier, supervises at the shelter, works with volunteers and has started keeping track of the demand for specific pets. She keeps a log book of people who are requesting a certain type or breed of animal.

Before the pet-request program started, the shelter had people come in who were looking for a certain kind of animal, and if they didn’t find what they wanted at the time both the patron and the shelter would be out of luck. Now, when an animal comes in that meets a request, that person gets a phone call. This is one reason pet adoption rates are up, shelter officials said.

In the nursery, Cindy Cole donates her time to bottle-feed the puppies and kittens. “People now come and ask specifically for bottle-fed kittens,” Cole said. The reason, she said, is “because they are so friendly and loving.” Cole has a space at her house where she bottle-feeds kittens when she can’t be at the shelter. At her house she exposes the kittens to people, and they are less skittish when being adopted.

According to Hagemier, Beth Dillman is another person who has been a primary factor in the shelter’s improvements. Hagemier said Dillman has been an expert voice when it comes to dogs and all the animals being vaccinated, and animal handling in general. She also drives shelter animals to a veterinarian in another city to have them spayed and neutered.

There is less disease at the shelter now. “We were being hit with parvo three to four times a year,” Dillman said. “But we have reduced parvo to zero. The shelter liaison committee consists of Hagemier and Sandy Thurman. They serve as a communications link between the shelter and the Humane Society.

During the open house, the shelter honored Thurman as the incoming vice president of the shelter and Warren Auxier as the president.

Hagemier said Thurman and Auxier have been invaluable in overseeing the shelter, especially with structural issues.