Nina Dix: About our Rowan County Animal Shelter

Published 12:05 am Sunday, April 12, 2015

By Nina Dix

Special to the Salisbury Post

Lately, questions have come up about how much access rescue volunteers have to photograph animals at the Rowan County Animal Shelter.

The facts are there is no limit to the number of pictures that any volunteer or citizen can take at the Rowan County Animal Shelter. There is no special permission needed to photograph animals. Any citizen can photograph the animals at the shelter while the animals are in their kennels, on any day, at any hour when the shelter is open to the public.

What is restricted is the time that a county shelter employee can be present to take the animals out for photographs. But I am guessing if county residents would be willing to pay the salary and benefits for another shelter employee whose job would be to facilitate taking pictures all day, it could be worked out with commissioners.

There are animals that come into the shelter that are scared, stressed and do lash out. But if the thought of inexperienced people coming in and removing animals from kennels, animals that may severely injure the individual or an innocent bystander, or escape and be injured themselves — if that does not seem like a liability to the county residents, I am guessing that could happen, too.

Another limitation is that the Rowan County Animal Shelter is an “open admission” county-run facility. The shelter cannot turn down any animal for bad behavior, any health condition, or because the shelter is full. And our shelter is extremely small.

The current shelter staff members have many years of experience and are perfectly capable of separating animals based on behavior. But the staff has no space to separate them. That fact alone causes great stress to all the animals. The scared and stressed animals have no place to decompress.

The solution is not to risk public safety. The solution is for the people of this county that want to see change for the animals at the shelter to come together and build a functional facility to accommodate the number of homeless animals that we see in our county.

And it will have to be these people who want change to do this. It is unrealistic to think that our county tax money will do this when there is so much need in our county for public schools, etc.

We have been very lucky to have someone from outside our county step up and donate the funds for a new cat facility. Now the people of this county who want change for animals need to come together and do what it takes to raise funds, to update and add a canine facility.

The 501(c)3 nonprofit, Shelter Guardians Inc., is established and has started the project of a canine facility. The Shelter Guardians organization welcomes anyone who would like to help.

But, honestly, one thing that hurts the animals most is for people to be so focused on someone to blame for the conditions of our county shelter, the number of animals put down or whatever. We need to let go of all the politics and drama.

And if you really want someone to throw all the blame on, someone that really deserves it, then we all should look in the mirror. It belongs to us all.

But blaming and looking backwards is a total waste of our energy and time. And most of all, it doesn’t help the animals. Real, lasting change and solutions have never been started with blame.

The majority of people in this community are tired of negativity. No one wants to spend their free time or money on a negative campaign to do anything. And no group or person will ever gain the support of the majority of people in this county, their effort or their funds until we approach our animal issues in a positive and proactive way.

There are already many groups and individuals that have started the process of positive change for the sake of our homeless animals. Please join us!

Nina Dix of Salisbury is a certified dog trainer/behaviorist/rescuer.