*This story first appeared in The Budget’s May 30, 2018, Local Edition.
By Stacey Carmany
It was an afternoon filled with smiles and wagging tails when past adopters and their canine companions reunited with the staff at Holmes County Dog Warden’s Department for a community open house and hog roast May 26.
“Really, it’s designed to bring some publicity to the adoptable dogs that we have and just to show people how we’ve changed, even in the last three or four years,” said Holmes County Dog Warden Jonathan Beam. “A lot of the community focuses on giving to us, whether it be treats, food, things like that, so this is one day where we’re trying to give back as a way of saying thank you.”
Although she had not been back for a visit since her adoption in 2013, 7-year-old black-and-white pit bull mix Jorjy could not wait to get inside the adoption center and see her friend and rescuer, Deputy Dog Warden Scott Goodland, according to her adopters, Barb and Bob Hirsch of Dover.
“That’s who picked her up, and I have never seen a dog dying to come into a place,” Barb Hirsch said. “She couldn’t wait to get out of the car.”
Joining Jorjy was her adopted brother Festus, a 3-year-old hound mix who joined the Hirsch family in 2015 and was equally enthusiastic about his reunion with the warden.
“We love when they bring the dogs back, and if they can’t for geographic reasons, they send us Facebook updates, which we love and we post,” Goodland said.
Also making an appearance during the reunion was Kelsey, a 5-year-old white female terrier who was picked up as a stray in the Glenmont area in 2013 and only spent a day in the shelter before being adopted by Les and Sharon Miller of Millersburg.
“We stopped in here. We were on our way downtown, and I saw her and I told him, ‘That is my dog. I need that dog,’ ” Sharon Miller recalled. “We came back, and she was still here, and we grabbed her right away. I didn’t want to lose her.”
She said Kelsey has been a great dog and a wonderful addition to the family and even helped her get through an extremely difficult time in her life. “I had colon cancer, and she was my very best friend,” Miller said. “She spent a lot of time with me.”
Both families praised the Dog Warden’s Department for their immaculate adoption facility and the care and attention they provide to all their dogs. “I think the facilities are very nice. They’re very clean and very organized, and the animals seem to love it here until they get a forever home,” Miller said.
Hirsch said she and her husband had visited several other facilities before deciding to adopt from the center in Holmes County. “We had a hard time finding it at first, but I liked it better,” she said. “It was smaller, better care, better attention.”
The adoption center has also gotten a facelift over the last several years. Recent improvements include the addition of a fresh coat of paint to both the interior and exterior of the building as well as the installation of a new, paved parking lot.
“A lot of people walk in here that haven’t been here for a while and say this place has changed drastically in the past few years,” Beam shared. “We’re trying to get more people to see that. It’s not a sad, dark place anymore. We’re trying to make it a bright, happy place.”
In conjunction with the improvements to the facility, the department has also been beefing up its social media presence in order to create more awareness of its adoptable dogs, an effort that Beam said has helped fuel an increase in adoptions.
“On average, adoptions per year range from about 100 adoptions to 120, 130. Last year was the first full year that we’ve focused on social media, and we left last year with 177 adoptions,” he said. “In the past three years, we’ve increased our adoption rate by about 10 percent, and I think it’s partially due to more people being interested in adopting. They see us on social media, and they see some of the Happy Tales, and they just want to be a part of that,” he shared.
The Holmes County Dog War- den’s Department and Adoption Center is located at 5387 County Road 349 in Millersburg and can be reached by calling 330-674-6301. The Adoption Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.
For more information, including a list of adoptable dogs, visit holmescountydogwarden.com or like and follow @holmescountydogwarden on Facebook.