Animals in Good Hands
They are the lost and unwanted with names like Fluffy, Lucky and Pee Wee. Four-legged, furry and friendly, the cats and dogs at the Edmond Animal Shelter have it so much better than some still hoping for a safe place to stay. Still, they don't have the one thing they desperately want…a home. Until they do, one man is making sure they have the best life possible. His name is Jim Fish, Edmond's Supervisor of Animal Welfare.
Fish is just as good-natured and friendly as the animals he helps protect. With a smile that never fades, he speaks with pride and optimism about a job that many would find difficult—managing the seemingly endless supply of Edmond's homeless dogs and cats, puppies and kittens.
"This job can be extremely rewarding," said Fish. "Here, the lost and homeless find a place where they're wanted and cared for. Often, we help desperate pet owners reconnect with their lost dog or cat. It's also a wonderful feeling to see abandoned and fearful animals gain confidence and then be adopted by people who will cherish them and welcome them into their family."
However, there is never a dull moment around Animal Welfare. “My officers have experienced attacks by pot belly pigs This pig had to be put on a catch pole,” he said. “Pigs are very feisty and they have very little fear of man.”
In addition to his people skills, Fish also brings some very impressive credentials to his position. Prior to coming to Edmond, he was Director of Living Programs at the National Aviary in Pittsburg where he managed the aviary's employees and bird collection. Before that, he was the Curator of Birds at the Oklahoma City Zoo for fourteen years.
"I've only been in Edmond for less than a year, but I really love it here," said Fish. "The city is clean, safe and has high standards. This city's animal shelter reflects that commitment to an exceptional quality of life."
According to Fish, the Edmond Animal Shelter, built in 2005, is a state-of-the-art facility. As soon as you enter, it's easy to see (and smell) its advantages over many shelters in cities across the nation. The space is open and airy with high ceilings, glistening stainless steel and glass. The animal cages are meticulously clean and quite large. Most of all, you immediately sense a feeling of contentment among the animals.
"The animals here live as normal a life as possible," said Fish. "We are most fortunate to have an incredibly professional and caring staff. Volunteers from Paws for Life spend quality time with each animal. The dogs are walked regularly and played with outside where they can enjoy the fresh air and feel grass between their toes."
Fish explained that the animals available for adoption have passed an evaluation process that determines their suitability for adoption. Those who pass are allowed to remain at the shelter until they are adopted – about a month on the average.
"The evaluation is quite thorough and makes for many happy endings," said Fish. "We look at health, temperament and their ability to get along with other dogs, cats and especially people. Although there are no guarantees, the process helps ensure that people who adopt a pet here will find a healthy, safe and loving companion."
Fish said that the reality of the situation is that not all of the animals evaluated are placed for adoption.
"We are sometimes overwhelmed with strays," said Fish. "We get in six to as many as twenty animals a day, including litters of puppies and kittens. About one-third are reunited with their owners and another third are placed for adoption. In addition to cats and dogs, we occasionally find stray horses, donkeys and goats. Sometimes, we get in exotics like ferrets, lizards and snakes. Once, we even had a coatimundi, a sort of South American raccoon."
According to Fish, the shelter adopts out 10 to 15 cats and 20 to 30 dogs per month. He says the numbers of lost and unwanted animals could be drastically reduced if owners would follow a few simple guidelines: spay or neuter your pet; don't allow your pet to wander off your property; and make sure your pet has a tag with your name, phone number and address.
"If you've lost your pet, be sure to check with us here at the shelter," advised Fish. "Too often, people don't realize that their pet may be here waiting for them. If you think you're ready to add a new family member, also check with us first. We go out of our way to match the right dog or cat with the right owner."
Anyone interested in adopting a pet, is encouraged to visit the Edmond Animal Shelter at the Cross Timbers Municipal Complex on Covell, just east of I-35. To view current animals available for adoption, please visit www.edmondok.com. The cost for a neutered, evaluated and vet checked pet with vaccinations is only $70 for a dog or cat.
Occasionally, there is even a sale.
Who says you can't buy love?