“It is not our intention to make the dog warden's job more difficult. We actually believe the use of volunteers would free up time for the staff to concentrate on other duties. Our main concerns are that the dogs are not walked, vetted, socialized or even permitted blankets to lie on,” said Kayleen Lee, president of Huron County Second Chance K-9s and Friends.
One of responsibilities of the two part-time employees at the dog warden’s office is walking the dogs. Katie Long happened to be walking a mastiff-bulldog mix outside Thursday afternoon when the Reflector arrived at the agency for another photo assignment.
Huron County Dog Warden Gary Ousley said if he allowed volunteers to walk the dogs, his part-time workers “wouldn’t have anything to do except sell tags and clean the kennels.”
“They are taking work away from them,” he added.
Huron County Second Chance K-9s and Friends, which was formed in May 2016, has about 1,300 members. On its Facebook page, the group says it “was formed to help dogs at the Huron County Dog Pound find loving homes” and “our bigger goal is to help raise funds for a better facility.” It consists of concerned county residents and animal lovers.
“Our main mission these days is to get these dogs adopted,” vice president Janet Ketcham said. “We would like to see these dogs spayed and neutered before they are adopted. Some people adopt these dogs just to breed them.”
Lee and Ketcham called each of the 88 dog wardens in Ohio. Ketcham estimated 80 percent of the agencies allow some form of volunteerism.
Ketcham said Huron County Second Chance K-9s has attempted to reach out to Ousley and the county commissioners, noting she specifically is “not welcome” at the dog pound. She has donated food, but she couldn’t recall being thanked recently.
“They don’t even respond to my emails anymore,” Ketcham said. “We have volunteers who are not welcome.”
Group officers are passionate about walking the dogs.
“We attended a meeting of Huron County commissioners in July, where we sought permission to walk dogs at the pound. During this meeting, dog warden Gary Ousley stated that he did not want volunteers, so Commissioners (Joe) Hintz and (Terry) Boose refused to vote to pass a motion by Commissioner Skip Wilde that would have permitted volunteers for a 30-day trial period,” Lee said.
“We did not ask to walk dogs at the Huron County pound because we have a burning desire to walk dogs. We asked because the dogs there need (to be) walked. They need social interaction because it makes them better dogs. Studies have shown that dogs can become aggressive, fearful or depressed from being kept in kennels for prolonged periods.”
Ousley said group members were told walking the dogs “was not the best idea” since the pound has stray dogs and the members aren’t as familiar with them as his employees.
“If Mr. Ousley is going to continue banning volunteers, we would like to see members of the staff walking the dogs, providing insight into their personalities and taking good pictures of them,” Lee said.
Ousley said Ketcham comes to the dog pound to visit the dogs, but she doesn’t address her concerns with him.
“I’ve asked her to sit down with me, but they don’t want to do that,” the dog warden added.
One of Ketcham’s hopes is having Ousley become a licensed humane investigator. The three- to five-day training costs $600 to $650.
When asked about the situation, Ousley said being trained would step on the toes of what the Huron County Humane Society does.
“We work together. We don’t want to work against each other,” the dog warden said.
Ousley suggests members of Huron County Second Chance K-9s form their own rescue group and/or undergo the training to be licensed humane investigators. That way, he said they could assist the Humane Society.
“That’s my personal opinion,” Ousley added. “They need to do it (help) the right way.”
When it comes down to it, neither person believe a working relationship is possible.
“It’s not going to happen,” Ketcham said. “We have tried to work with Gary. We don’t consider ourselves out (to) battle with Gary; we don’t consider him the enemy.”
After Ousley said group members have “trashed him in the paper” and on Facebook, “it’s probably not going to happen.”