A first-time open house from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Jefferson County Animal Shelter is an event the Jefferson County Humane Society hopes will give the public not just a bricks-and-mortar view of their taxpayer dollars at work, but more importantly, a look at "the happy, fuzzy-faced, tail-wagging animals who are being cared for" there.
Fostering some adoptions would be nice, too, according to JCHS representatives.
"The Jefferson County Humane Society wants to encourage the public to come out and visit the facility," said Sally Wehr, the society's president. "We would like everyone to know what a great resource Jefferson County has for their homeless animals. We picked mid-September for this event as children are back in school and, for most people, life settles down to a routine in the fall of each year. It is a great time to think about bringing home a new furry family member," Wehr said.
The public is invited to the open house along with their pets, according to a promotional flyer, with a special invitation extended to individuals who have adopted their "furever" friend from the shelter, which is located at 200 Airpark Road, Wintersville.
The open house will include:
A dog training demonstration at 1 p.m.
A K-9 police dog meet and greet;
A Blessing of the Pets ceremony at 3 p.m. led by the Rev. Nathan Malavolti, the new vice president of community relations at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
There also will be shelter tours, Christmas cash drawing tickets, lunch ($3 for a classic bag lunch - a hot dog, cookies, chips and pop); and "an organized walk for the dogs."
The latter happens around the park complex anytime from noon to 4 p.m., according to Kathy Gagin of the JCHS.
"People are encouraged to bring their dogs out for a walk on a beautiful fall day. We are hoping that many of the recent adopted animals will come for a sort of homecoming," Gagin said.
"The walk is mostly for dogs, but if you have a cat who walks on a leash, then OK. Any animal lover - cat, dog or otherwise - can come have some fun and support the shelter. We are having special adoption prices for some of the animals during the event," Gagin said.
Visitors also can check out the shelter's store.
"Many people who come to adopt aren't prepared for the new pet at home," Gagin said, "so we set up a small store (utilizing a grant) at the shelter where you can purchase basic supplies for your new pet - sort of a one-stop pet stop. We also have T-shirts and sweatshirts for sale. All monies raised from the store help to support our programming."
Wehr said the JCHS signed an agreement with the Jefferson County Commissioners on May 30 to manage the shelter.
"JCHS has instituted new programs such as animal shelter specific computer software that provides so much more information than was ever available in the past," Wehr said. "The Jefferson County Humane Society staff performs all customer service and customer interaction. Adoptions have increased beyond our expectations, there are new in-shelter programs introduced by JCHS, including the adoption programs, basic intake and medical standards, canine vaccines and treatment. We try very hard to really market the homeless pets at the shelter so people are aware of the wonderful animals available," Wehr said.
"We are just beginning our volunteer programs and our pet retention programs. As part of our pet retention programs, JCHS held its first basic training class for people who have adopted from the shelter. Lorrie Raymond from Destiny Dog Training was kind enough to volunteer to come and explain the basics. It turned out to be the very same night the terrible storms went through our area, and we truly believed no one would show up, but everyone that was on the schedule was at the shelter that night with their dogs ready to learn the basics. It was important to these pet owners."
As of Aug. 31, there were 49 cats and kittens at the shelter and 43 dogs and puppies.
The month of August brought the adoption of 22 cats and kittens and 48 dogs or puppies.
The open house Saturday is part of the community outreach section of the society's "business plan." "We want to be sure people all over are familiar with the Jefferson County Humane Society and the Jefferson County Animal Shelter. A goal for us is to have someone automatically think of going to their local animal shelter whenever they are ready for a new pet," Wehr said.