Animal shelter faces numerous challenges
Blair (named for Blair Street) would likely be a familiar face to a number of Mineola residents. The ‘house dog’ of the Mineola Animal Shelter had earned quite a reputation for avoiding …
Animal shelter faces numerous challenges
Blair (named for Blair Street) would likely be a familiar face to a number of Mineola residents. The ‘house dog’ of the Mineola Animal Shelter had earned quite a reputation for avoiding capture. Her elusiveness had spanned several breeding seasons and illustrates perfectly the problem with stray dogs.
Now, finally secured and fixed, Blair has bonded with Mineola’s shelter manager Jordanna Green.
“She resides here at the shelter and has become our mascot,” stated Green. As if on cue, Blair got up from her dog bed behind the counter, stretched – making a wide path around the visitor – and headed for the exercise area.
“The problem is really pretty simple,” Green shared, “stray or feral animals reproduce at alarming rates.”
As one of two animal control officers in Mineola, Green is at the forefront of curbing the stray dog and cat populations within city limits. She manages one of two municipal animal shelters in Wood County. The other is in Winnsboro.
Catching Green at the shelter after morning chores allowed for an opportunity to discuss the shelter, the scope of the animal control problem and the duties of an animal control officer.
After serving two years as a dispatcher with the Mineola Police Department, Green is in her seventh year at the shelter. The shelter – located at 965 Baker Street in the southeast business park – is a purpose-built facility.
Twelve interior/exterior dog runs shape the main housing area. Two of those pens are dedicated for quarantine use. There are four additional exterior dog pens, a sizable cathouse which has recently been retrofitted by replacing the wooden frames with a more sterile steel, and a separate outside pen for feral cats.
Although not large, the shelter is well-provisioned and orderly. “We try to improve things little by little,” Green remarked. It shows.
Large improvements are also undertaken. This past year the heating system for the main kennel was replaced. The kennel can be maintained at a comfortable 65-70 degrees even on frigid winter days.
On the wall are photos of the animals which have been successfully adopted so far this year. Behind the desk are sketches done for the shelter by Mineola Junior High School students. It is obvious that the facility is well-cared for.
Green pointed at a wall full of leashes and collars. “This was all donated,” she explained. That was a common theme in the discussion of the animal control efforts.
Green shared a number of examples of how local residents contribute to the cause of finding homes for animals which pass through the doors, to medical costs, to referrals for adoption, and foster care.
“The community in Mineola and throughout the county is simply amazing,” she reflected.
The help is sorely needed. A quick look at the 2022 numbers drive the point home. Some 406 animals were taken in last year by the shelter. The largest numbers were stray dogs (186) and stray cats (137), but the total also included owner surrenders and other native animals. The scope of the problem can also be framed by considering that the police department went on 1,073 animal calls last year.
A high percentage of those animals taken in are successfully adopted (93% of cats and 62% of dogs). Most of the remainder are directed to other rescue agencies. Last year the shelter euthanized one cat and 11 dogs.
“We do everything we can to avoid having to euthanize,” stated Green. She explained that as the shelter euthanizes less than 10% of the population, it is designated a ‘no kill’ shelter by the state. Those cases when euthanizing is done are cases when it is in the best interest of the animal, usually due to injury or disease.
A look back at the last ten years of data reveals a remarkably steady number of animals pass through the shelter. What has changed is the number of calls received from the public about stray or feral animals. That number has doubled over the past ten years.
The process for adopting an animal is pretty easy. There is a standard $35 dollar fee, and an agreement must be signed which declares that the new owner will get their adopted animal neutered or spayed.
One gets the sense, however, that Green dedicates considerably more time and energy into the adoption process than may meet the eye.
“I have to be able to trust an animal before I can place them with a family,” she admitted.
From adopting out ‘barn cats’ to matching a dog with a family, Green is part social worker, part negotiator and part animal whisperer.
Green’s plea to the public is simply to get their animals spayed or neutered. “It is an endless cycle of reproduction, and normally all shelters and rescues are full,” she stated.
Just in case managing a steady stream of stray cats and dogs became boring, the city fields regular calls on native animals. A long list was compiled from last year which included an alligator, bobcats, geese, owls, snakes and just about every kind of forest creature in the surrounding habitat.
Having grown up on a West Texas ranch, Green is more than able to answer such dispatches and take custody of an animal. Most native creatures, once checked, are released at the Mineola Nature Preserve. When required, injured animals are placed with an animal rehabilitator until well enough for release.
Green is encouraged by the initial actions taken at the county level to address concern over the stray/feral problem throughout the county. At the city level, she expressed appreciation for the work of the Lake Country Animal Clinic, the Animal Protection League, Tractor Supply and the many, many people who contribute their time and energy to caring for and placing animals.