Animals at shelter would like to remind people they’re ready for new homes whenever

Hannah Shillo, Campus Reporter

The Coles County Animal Shelter holds plenty of adoptable animals who are ready to find their forever homes.

According to www.colescountyanimalshelter.org, the shelter picks up stray and injured animals and houses animals who are waiting either for their owners to claim them or for their new homes.

Jason Wallace is the assistant manager at the shelter, and he has worked there for 20 years.

“Our numbers have been really good the last couple of years,” he said.

Wallace said the shelter has held an ideal number of animals due to veterinarians from the University of Illinois helping out.

“We’ve been having the U of I come out here every week,” he said. “They do spays and neuters for us at low cost, and it’s finally paying off.”

Wallace said they have been doing the surgeries for several years, so there are fewer stray animals reproducing, therefore keeping the shelter animal numbers lower.

He said the shelter had previously been euthanizing around 200 dogs a year, but the last few years have been much better, with zero dogs euthanized in 2016 and three in 2017.

He said the Coles County community also plays a big part in the success of the shelter.

“We’ve been fortunate, and our community support is through the roof,” he said. “If we need something, we post about it and we get it.”

Because of the community support, Wallace said adoptions are way up compared to years before, and the shelter is now able to pull animals from other communities to avoid euthanasia. “Last year and the year before that was just amazing,” Wallace said. “I got goosebumps even thinking about it.”

Volunteers are also what helps the shelter stay on track, he said.

Wallace said volunteers can come in from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day except for “surgery days,” which are Thursdays and Saturdays.

“Just come in and sign in on the sheet,” he said. “If it’s your first time, we’ll be happy to show you what’s going on.”

Many volunteers come in and walk the dogs or play with them in the rooms available at the shelter.

“The important reason (for volunteers) is to get the dogs out and get them walked,” Wallace said. “Get them exercised, because they can go kennel crazy.”

Wallace said dogs who go “kennel crazy” often become lethargic, or they can begin pacing, shivering or shaking and barking excessively, so volunteers are more than welcome to walk dogs in order to avoid any of that.

He said if people are wanting to help out but are not able to volunteer, the shelter will accept donations of any kind because they are usually able find a use for anything that is donated.

Wallace said adoptions at the shelter are increasing, especially during the holiday season.

“During Christmas, adoptions are up, but we don’t do gifts,” he said. “If you’re wanting to get a dog for your boyfriend, that’s fine, but your boyfriend needs to come in here and see what he is getting before he gets it. We don’t do surprises.”

Wallace said the reasoning for that rule is because animals need cared for and are not things that can be put in a closet and forgotten about.

Because of that rule, Wallace said the abandonment rate, especially after Christmas, is very low.

If someone is wanting to adopt an animal, Wallace said the process is usually simple, but a little research and preparation will be beneficial, especially for dogs.

“Research the breed of the animal that you’re getting, just because certain breeds are much more energetic,” he said. “Get your basics, learn how to housebreak.”

He said he has brochures of basic information on hand to give to people who have recently adopted from the shelter.

He said it is important, especially for college students, to make sure they are ready for the responsibility of owning a pet and planning for when students go home for breaks.

“If you have to go home,” Wallace said, “it’s important that you bring that pet home, too.”

Hannah Shillo can be reached at 581-2812 or hls[email protected]