The Corinne T. Smith Animal Center had barely opened up one recent afternoon, and part-time staffer Elaine Young was already multi-tasking in the reception area.
Young divided her attention between talking on the phone and talking with a large group of people in the reception area, answering questions and giving advice.
“No. Won’t work,” Young told a woman who thought allowing her dog to have a litter of pups would calm down the dog. The animal center would end up with the puppies, Young explained.
Young told someone by phone that “Roper,” a pit bull, is high energy but “very, very loveable.”
Is there a “typical day” at the center? If you count how busy the staff and volunteers stay, or the constant and unplanned arrival of dogs, cats, kittens and puppies -- some healthy, some very sick, many with little or no history that’s known about the animals -- as “typical,” then, perhaps, one could argue that there is a typical day.
“We stay busy all the time,” said Freda Day, the center’s administrative manager.
The center, which has six full-time staff plus the part-time Young, takes in about 3,500 animals a year, Day said.
Day carried a small long-haired puppy into the reception area. About a week earlier, Day said, someone had dumped the puppy, its sibling and the mama over the center’s fence. Day and other staff members worked on socializing the three animals -- a challenge.
Young has named the puppy that Day carried “Baby” and has been taking the puppy home to “foster” her.
Young said she takes calls from people who want to know what will happen to stray animals if they bring them to the center: “Are you going to kill them?”
“I say that’s always a possibility,” Day said. “We are painfully honest with people.” The staff doesn’t, of course, want to have to euthanize any animals and the staff tries to get the animals adopted or taken in by a rescue organization.
“I lost my dog … I lost my cat,” five to six callers say each day. Some of the lost animals have no collars, tags or microchips.
In another area of the center, kennel tech Staci Baker loaded syringes with medicine as she prepared to give vaccinations to a pit bull that animal control had brought in that morning. Baker would also be drawing blood to test for heartworms, cleaning out the dog’s ears, examining his teeth and spraying him with a flea bath.
This dog was lucky: Day entered the intake area and said the pit bull’s owner had called, looking for the dog. The pit bull, named Tater Tot, would be going home.
Baker and another kennel tech, Don Catlin, began working up another pit bull. Someone had brought him in as a stray, and that person had given him a name: Titus.
“I like that I get to make a difference,” said Baker, a three-year staffer. “I like that I can touch their lives in some way and help them on their journey in a positive way.”
A voice sounded over a portable two-way radio: “Five kittens for intake.”
Baker went to another area of the center and returned to the intake area a few minutes later, toting a cat carrier with the five tiny kittens.
The center’s hope for the animals
“Our hope for the animals that are here is that they can find homes where they can live the rest of their lives,” Day said. “There’s no reason we should be this busy.”
The center wouldn’t be “this busy,” Days said, if pet owners would:
• Have their animals spayed or neutered.
• Think about whether they really want the pet before taking it home.
• Hang identification or microchips on the animals.
“That would reduce business down to 20 percent of what it is,” Days said. “And we’d be happy.”