Shelter Manager Janette Skarda stepped down effective March 1, but before she left, she gave Adopt A Dog a new restructuring plan.
Namely, the Hood River Adopt A Dog board is breaking Skarada’s position into two pieces — Lauren Halliday, assistant shelter manager, is now serving as co-manager, along with newly hired Emma Swanhuyser, said Judy Dutcher, board treasurer.
The change will bring better coverage to the dog shelter, said Board Chair Susan Lannak. Instead of opening mornings and evenings only, Hood River Adopt A Dog will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., she said. Halliday is now at the office from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Swanhuyser was hired March 19.
“We’re hoping the reorganization will generate interest, and new people will come in, as well as old volunteers come back,” said Lannak.
The need for volunteers is the biggest issue facing the board. To that end, they are hosting a volunteer meet-and-greet on Saturday, March 31 at The Pines from 5-8 p.m. The first 50 people in attendance will receive a free glass of wine — and everyone will learn about the various opportunities at the shelter.
For example, there are 11 board positions, but only six are filled, and there’s space for 14 supervisors (or, under the new structuring, people who will help open and close the shelter each day), but only four positions are filled.
There’s also a need for adoption counselors — each dog is assigned one, who works to connect the animal with its forever home.
“We’ve been doing this for 10 years and we provide a valuable service,” said Dutcher. “We need volunteers because we’re super short staffed.
“We do provide value and we want to keep doing it. We have people who are super committed — but we need more.”
“We’re doing this event because we do need help. We cannot do it without the community,” Lannak said.
Adopt A Dog has greatly expanded its services since it began 10 years ago. “When we started, we adopted out 100 dogs,” said Dutcher. From Jan. 1, 2017, to Jan. 1 of this year, the shelter had 235 adoptions. Of those, 56 were owner surrenders and 167 were strays.
When a dog comes in to the shelter, the hope is to get it back to its home. Sometimes, it turns out that the owner can’t be found, or doesn’t want the animal back. These days, more dogs are not returned to their owners for a variety of reasons: The new apartment won’t allow pets, the owner can’t afford to feed the animal, or has passed away and the family doesn’t want to keep the pet.
Owner surrenders are up, said Dutcher. The benefit of being able to talk to the owner, however, is that they can be interviewed about the dog, giving the shelter an idea of whether or not the animal is a good candidate for adoption.
“We can talk to the owner — that’s the good thing,” Dutcher said. “How’s the dog with kids? How is it with cats? What are the medical issues? We can at least get more information in place.”
If the dog is found to be in poor health or aggressive, the shelter won’t take the animal — there’s just not the resources for that.
It’s rare for a shelter dog to be at the site for more than a couple of weeks, although that does depend on the dog. Puppies and desirable breeds go fast, while older dogs and those with medical conditions take longer to find homes.
“If we can’t find a home for a dog, we might transfer it to another shelter,” said Dutcher. “We work back and forth with each other.”
The board hopes the March 31 event will spark new interest in the shelter.
“We need the community to help us continue what we do,” said Dutcher. “It comes in all shapes and forms — just like dogs.”
Adopt A Dog Meet and Greet
Saturday, March 31, 5-8 p.m.
The Pines, Second and Cascade, Hood River.
Learn about volunteer opportunities: Dog walking, adoption counselor, foster parent, board member, clerical or fundraising, and how to donate funds.