Local dog warden combats overpopulation

Jan. 19—ALLEN COUNTY — After an influx of animals in shelters during the early days of COVID-19, Allen County Dog Warden Julie Shellhammer reports the number of dogs the shelter takes in is steadying.

Other than enabling pet adoptions, the county dog warden combats an overpopulation of dogs by spaying and neutering the dogs they take in.

To help with the cost, Shellhammer, along with several other wardens, applies for the Ohio Pet Fund grant each year. On average, the grant will award $2,500 to each warden to pay for the cost of sterilization.

"I have been doing this for about 12 years now," said Shellhammer. "Most of the time I receive $2,500 for all the animals. Before they go up for adoption, we have them spayed or neutered so there's no compliance or follow up and we are making sure we are not overpopulating. The less we can euthanize the animals the better. It (sterilizing) makes them healthier and friendlier. It extends their life so it is just a plus all around."

Shellhammer hopes to not only pay for the dogs at the warden but also sterilize dogs in the community.

"This year I set up a separate fund and I am trying to get donations so I can do outside citizen dogs," added Shellhammer. "If someone does have a dog they can't afford to sterilize, we can use that grant money as well. If they are not low-income but need assistance I started up a different fund to get donations in to help anyone get the dog sterilized."

In addition to Allen County, Auglaize and Hardin Counties have applied for the same grant to combat overpopulation.

Auglaize County Dog Warden Russ Bailey said the statewide program is funded by a resident's purchase of a 'petsohio' license plate.

"Anyone that gets that license plate on their vehicle, they pay a little extra and that money goes to that organization and it is distributed throughout Ohio," said Bailey. "(Dog Wardens) have to file for the grant and use it strictly to spay and neuter animals."

Bailey said after previously being overloaded with dogs the organization now has zero dogs in its shelter.

"For the past three years, we had a contract with Logan County where we took in all of their dogs also so we have been bombarded," added Bailey. "That contract ended in December; so we are hopefully going to see a drastic decrease."

Bailey also added that, due to an increase in dog license sales, the organization is quickly able to give dogs back to their owners.

To increase adoption efforts, Auglaize County began to post videos of the dogs on Facebook.

"They do not just a photo but a video and the dogs are adopted sometimes that same day," said Bailey.

Reach Precious Grundy at 567-242-0351.