Shelter targeted for improvements

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 25, 2005

WINDSOR – Change is on the way at the Bertie County Animal Shelter.

On the heels of the Bertie Board of Commissioners voting earlier this month to spend upwards of $5,000 at the shelter, Bertie Sheriff Greg Atkins said Tuesday those improvement plans are in the process of being implemented.

"We thank the Commissioners for their commitment in our ongoing efforts to care for the abandoned and stray animals here in our county," Atkins said.

Atkins, who oversees the county's animal control office, which includes the pet shelter, said he had contacted a local cement company about a price for pouring concrete slabs at the compound.

"All we're waiting for is for them to give us a price and then a date that they can come to pour the slabs," Atkins said.

The decision to go with concrete slabs are two-fold n one, they are easier to maintain and clean, and, two, they prevent the spread of Parvo, a highly contagious disease that attacks a dog's digestive system. It is easily transmitted as the virus can remain infectious in ground contaminated with fecal material for five months or more if conditions are favorable.

Barry Anderson, Bertie's Animal Control Officer, told the commissioners earlier this month that Parvo was a problem. He said he has been monitoring it very closely since the county severed its ties with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) on June 20 following the arrest of two PETA workers in Ahoskie who, five days earlier, allegedly discarded dead dogs in a dumpster. The majority of the 31 dead animals discovered in the possession of the two PETA workers on June 15 had been collected earlier the same day at the Bertie shelter.

"We never had to address the issue of Parvo during our association with PETA because they were coming here weekly and picking up these animals," Atkins noted. "The animals weren't here long enough for us to even have them checked for Parvo."

Anderson said Parvo could already be present in the dogs upon their arrival at the shelter. He said the dirt floor of the cages acts as a catalyst for the spread of the disease.

"I really believe that by using concrete as a floor, we'll see a decline in Parvo," Anderson said at the commissioners meeting.

In addition, the use of concrete will allow Anderson to bleach the slabs and rinse it off, thus promoting a more sanitized area for the pets.

Another improvement at the Bertie shelter will be noted in a special area for puppies. Atkins said a 10-foot-by-10-foot area with a concrete slab will serve this purpose.

The Sheriff added that all the old wooden dog houses supplied by PETA will be removed and replaced with plastic models.

"We've learned that wood, just like the soil, promotes the spread of Parvo," Atkins noted.

Additionally, Sheriff Atkins announced that Angie Walker of Windsor will henceforth handle the information concerning adoptable pets at the shelter.

"Angie is a hard-working lady who is volunteering her time to help us," said the Sheriff. "She will work closely with area newspapers in spreading the word on how individuals can come to the shelter and adopt one of the pets."

Contacted by the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Walker said any publicity these animals receive would be greatly appreciated.

"We are doing our best to find these animals loving and caring homes," Walker said.

In order to deem which of the abandoned or stray pets are adoptable, Walker says she goes to the shelter on a regular basis where she observes the animals' demeanor.

"We make every effort to take the time and get to know these animals from where we are able to determine if they are adoptable," she stressed.

Walker added that once an individual agrees to adopt, she or Anderson will stress to that person to consider having their new pet spayed or neutered.

"It's not required by law to do so, but it really helps control the animal population in the long run," Walker said. "We only suggest to the new owner that they have the pet spayed or neutered and to also make sure that the animal receives its rabies shot."

Apparently, the adoption program is working as Walker said four dogs found new homes last week.

The R-C News-Herald will begin publishing photos and information of animals available for adoption at the Bertie shelter.

Anyone interested in making an appointment to see the animals are urged to contact Anderson's office at 794-5340.