Our Views: Shelter changes creating a purr

Comments Comments Print Print
Saturday, August 24, 2013

Many Rock County families are passionate about their pets. Yet not all residents are as caring as they should be.

Some don’t spay or neuter their pets and let them roam outdoors, leading to unwanted litters. Or the wandering animals breed and spread feral cats and dogs across the county. Other residents lack the will or skill to train their pets or can’t afford vet care and food. So they dump them in the countryside, where the abandoned animals mate with others or are destined to starve or wind up as road kill or in the jaws of predators.

These are among the many unpleasant realities that make the Rock County Humane Society so valuable. And they make good news streaming out of the society’s doors so important.

The humane society was like a sick puppy under former Executive Director Angela Rhodes. Yes, she reduced euthanasia rates and enacted new policies, some of which shored up sagging finances. Yet people criticized her communication skills, and the society burned bridges with supporters. Most damaging was the decision by Mounds Pet Food Warehouse to sever ties with the shelter, removing its animals from the Janesville store’s adoption center and halting the flow of pet food free or at cost.

Soon after that January announcement, Rhodes was out. Enter Brett Frazier, who also was elected mayor of Milton this spring. Frazier came with a public relations background. He has been on the job just over two months, but early indications suggest he might have what it takes to cure the shelter’s ailments.

Frazier oversaw a new Pawcasso Art Auction & Gala that helped the Janesville shelter build its presence in Beloit and raise $2,000. Last weekend, the society opened a satellite adoption center at Petco in Janesville. Frazier also hopes to make amends with Mounds if the store and shelter can craft a partnership that benefits both.

“We want to have our animals in as many parts of the county as we can,” he told us Tuesday, while driving to meet with Clinton officials. “We recognize that the more people who see our animals—particularly our cats—the better chances they have of getting adopted and going to a great home.”

Frazier wants to trim the average stay of shelter animals and to work with and socialize them so they’re better trained and more obedient when adopted. He hopes to help financially strapped families with vet care and food so they don’t have to give up their pets for adoption.

Positive calls are pouring in. Like a purring kitten, these are energizing his staff.

Forging mutually beneficial partnerships with municipalities that contract with the nonprofit, private shelter for services is another of Frazier’s goal. Those contract costs leaped under Rhodes, and this year Janesville and Beloit signed with the Dane County Humane Society to take seriously ill strays and “owned animals.” Such animals might require quarantines and vet care that Rhodes said the Janesville shelter couldn’t offer.

“He stopped over shortly after his appointment,” Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore said of Frazier. “We had a very nice conversation. We’re anxious to work with each other in a positive manner, and we look forward to a good working relationship.”

Moore noted that his department invited the shelter to display adoptable animals during the Aug. 6 National Night Out, and the shelter brought two dogs.

The police chief expressed optimism about the issue of owned animals.

“We haven’t started that discussion yet,” Moore said. “But it is our hope and desire that we can come to a decision on many animal issues that are good for the citizens of Janesville and the humane society.”

That would put smiles on the faces of animal lovers throughout the county.

Comments Comments Print Print