Dog warden to seek grant to solve noise problem at adoption center

The Richland County commissioners have given the OK for the County Risk Management and Dog Warden’s offices to apply for an Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation grant for a project to reduce noise levels at the county dog shelter. Loss Control Program Coordinator Jenny Phelps and Dog Warden Missy Houghton told the board on Thursday that the project is aimed at reducing stress levels for both the employee and the dogs.

Phelps said an industrial hygienist from the BWC conducted an assessment of the noise levels in the kennel areas in 2019, when there were a “fraction” of the dogs currently being housed, and determined noise levels were over federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration levels and were approaching the permissible exposure limit. Kennel attendants were given hearing protection and officials started looking into ways to reduce the noise.

The Richland County Dog Warden's Office is in the Richland County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center on North Home Road.
The Richland County Dog Warden's Office is in the Richland County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center on North Home Road.

Another study was done in November 2023 after the BWC resumed the grant program following COVID and all seven areas sampled were over action levels. Phelps said levels generally were in the range of high 80 to low 90 decibel levels but below the 100-decibel federal limit.

Phelps told the board that while the kennel is at the point where officials might have to have annual hearing tests for kennel attendants, the BWC knows they are looking into a way to avoid the situation. “It’s not a penalty. We’ve not been penalized. Nobody is down our backs, nothing like that. It’s being proactive,” she said.

Phelps said the BWC grant will reimburse the county for 75% of the cost of sound-deadening projects up to a total of $40,000. Officials have a quote of $29,207 from Acoustical Systems of Dayton to put acoustical ceiling tiles in the main kennel and the west wing of the shelter.

Phelps said officials also looked at perforated metal acoustical panels that were "significantly" more expensive, acoustical curtains that could be damaged by the dogs and moisture from kennel cleaning and spray-on cellulose that would be difficult to clean and be prone to mold. She said the material from Acoustical Systems is wipeable and washable.

“They’re rated for high moisture environments. We talked about that in depth with the vendors,” Phelps said.

Missy Houghton
Missy Houghton

Officials also pointed out that noise reduction in the kennels will benefit not only the employees but also the dogs.

“It’s noisy and overwhelming, especially for the dogs that we get in that are already scared,” Houghton said. “It raises the stress levels in the dogs which impacts their behavior and their overall demeanor. The longer they’re exposed to it, the longer it takes them to decompress from the shelter environment.”

The Richland County Dog Shelter currently houses 99 dogs, which is higher than the number last fall but not as low as officials would like to see it.

Commissioners agreed to pay the county’s share of the cost with county reinvestment fund dollars.

Several county contracts renewed

Commissioners also voted Thursday to renew contracts for floor cleaning service, fuel for county-owned vehicles and metered mail service.

The board approved the first of two possible one-year renewals with Commercial Cleaning Enterprises of Galion for floor cleaning at the courthouse, Park Building, the Longview and maintenance buildings and the Peoples Center. The county spent $51,941 in 2023 under the first year of the contract.

“I think they’ve done a fantastic job on our floors. The shine in them has lasted and I don’t have any issues with them,” said Central Services Manager Rachael Troyer.

Commissioners also renewed a contract with Englefield Oil to provide gasoline and diesel fuel for county vehicles, except for the Engineers’ Department, at a cost of 11 cents less than posted at Englefield-owned BP/Duke and Duchess outlets. Troyer said the sheriff’s office was the biggest user last year, spending $360,284, followed closely by Richland Newhope.

Troyre said the engineer has a bulk tank and buys through state purchasing.

The final renewal was with SunGraphics for bulk mailing services for county offices, which includes picking up mail, putting on postage and taking the mail to the post office at a cost of 80 cents for first mail, which includes the current cost of 68 cents for a stamp.

“We have looked into the possibility of a mailroom in the past, and the cost and never would have saved us to have that,” Troyer said.

In other business, commissioners agreed to spend $100,488 in county reinvestment funds to equip and finalize funding for the purchase of six sheriffs’ cruisers that was authorized last year.

This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: Richland County to seek BWC grant to reduce noise at dog shelter