, Port Arthur, Texas

January 7, 2013

Animal shelter, local group work to place pets

Mary Meaux
The Port Arthur News

GROVES — Patricia Dollins has been searching for that special dog for quite some time.

Dollins, a pet lover who already owns both dogs and cats, knew she wanted a rescue dog. Last week she and her daughter, Katie Cochran, visited  the small animal shelter in Groves and fell in love with a tan and white pit bill mix dog with light colored eyes.

The dog relished the attention and with tail wagging rubbed against the legs of the women and tried to give the canine version of a kiss.

“This dog is really sweet. I love her,” Dollins said. “All my dogs are rescues. They make the best pets, I don’t know why, but they listen so well. They want you to love them. It’s an unconditional love.”

Cochran explains her family are the type of people who will stop and come to the aid of a stray dog, pick them up and try to find their owners and make sure the dogs are safely removed from the dangers of traffic.

“We’ve always been the crazy people who’ll run down the street to save a dog,” Cochran said with a laugh.

The family learned of the dog through the Internet and a non-profit group called Paws of Hope. The organization, which relies on donations and out-of-pocket money, is in constant communication with the shelter which serves both Groves and Port Neches cities.

Groves Fire Chief Dale Jackson, who also acts as director for the shelter, is glad to have the group on board adding that the city wants to find a home for the dogs and reunite lost dogs with their families.

The shelter has two full time animal control officers, Richard Caraway for Port Neches and Ronnie Thomas in Groves. Other city employees fill-in when the two men are on vacation or sick and this past week Mark Breuer was the substitute animal control officer in Groves.

Jackson explains that the cities share the approximate $30,000 cost to operate the facility and each city is responsible for the salary of their employee. Salaries for both are between $65,000 to $70,000 each.

There are also employees on schedule on weekends who go in for a few hours to feed the animals and clean their pens.

The cost for the third component of the shelter, a crematorium, is split with the three Mid-County cities. Nederland, which has it own animal shelter, does not have a crematorium.

A new shelter was completed in 2011 and features 10 kennels in front and four quarantine kennels, Jackson said while walking through the facility. Prior to the upgrade there were eight kennels and two quarantine kennels. The upgraded facility, including kennels, is also climate controlled.

Ashlyn Richie and Debbie Jones, are two of the members of Paws of Hope, are dedicated to their goal of reuniting pets and their owners and finding a good home for strays. In the less than one year Paws of Hope has been in existence the group has saved about 55 dogs or more.

“Often when a dog is missing the owners don’t think to cal the shelter,” Jones said.

Caraway said dogs stay in a special area for about 72 hours.

“Sometimes people go on vacation and their neighbors are supposed to take care of the dogs and they get loose. The owners may not be aware because they’re out of town,” Caraway said.

Caraway also knows that pet owners do not often check the shelter so he looks through various online publications in the lost pet section. Many times he’ll track down the owner.

The amount of time dogs stay in the shelter before they are euthenized depends on several factors. The shelter in Groves has limited space. Last week there were nine dogs and at one point in time there were 15 to 16, Breuer said.

“How long they’re in the shelter depends on if they think the dog is adoptable,” Caraway said. “They’ve been known to be kept up to a month but if they’re sickly we don’t want to prolong it. A week, week and a half.”

The shelter is not equipped to handle felines and the city of Groves does not have a cat ordinance.

Paws of Hope works to keep dogs from being euthenized and has several individuals who act as a foster parent for the dogs which are adoptable. The group is also in contact with other rescue groups in their bid to help animals.

Bad dog behavior, such as aggressiveness, usually falls on the owner.

“A lot of times people are walking or riding their bike and come across an aggressive dog. I’ve been out on a lot of those calls and it falls on the dog owner being responsible for having their dogs penned and control of them,” Jackson said.

Caraway agrees. He has encountered numerous people from out of the area who come to the Golden Triangle to work in the refineries. Often they come from towns where there is lot of open area, such as in the country, and are used to letting their dogs roam.

But neither animal control officer or Jackson blame the dogs for the bad habits.

“It all falls back on the owner,” Jackson said. “Animals will protect their turf and it’s up to the owners to protect the public and the dog.”

For more information about the group, log on to their Facebook page at Mid-County Paws of Hope.


Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews