More sunny days ahead?
By Denise Baran-Unland Correspondent January 7, 2013 11:30AM
This dog is ready for some fun in the sun. The dogs at Joliet Township Animal Control hope to join him this year. If the shelter can raise $10,000 for the construction of nine dog runs. SUBMITTED PHOTO
If You Go
What: New Hours for Joliet Township Animal Control
When:8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays
Where: Joliet Township Animal Control, 2807 McDonough Street, Joliet
Etc: Low-cost vaccine clinic from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the third Saturday of every month.
Updated: February 9, 2013 6:11AM
Brother, can you spare a dime for a little sunshine?
That’s what Joliet Township Animal Control is hoping you can do.
The low-kill shelter is hoping to raise $10,000 by spring to build an outdoor fenced area so its 40 dogs can go outside, a few at a time, and enjoy extra dog runs or simply lie in the grass and bask under sunny blue skies.
“The dogs do go outside for 10-15 minute walks two to three times a day with a volunteer or staff member,” said Sarah Gimbel, director of Joliet Township Animal Control. “But the dogs might also enjoy some extra exercise, running back and forth after a tennis ball and just enjoying some outdoor time.”
In 2011, Joliet Township Animal Control remodeled both its image and the interior of the shelter to produce a facility that was more people and animal friendly. That project included more space for large dogs, a puppy room, a cat room and a “meet-and-greet” room where prospective owners — along with their current pets — could visit with animals they wished to adopt and gauge their compatibility. At the time, no changes had been made to the grounds.
However, the necessity of adding well-designed play areas in shelters is catching on across the country. The Association of Shelter Veterinarians said in its 2010 “Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters” that dogs, in addition to their normal aerobic activity, require additional opportunities for play and exercise. Cats need places where they can hunt and explore.
Earlier this year, a New Jersey high school senior oversaw the construction of two dog runs at a shelter for his Eagle Scout project. The West End Animal Shelter in California, a no-kill, non-profit facility, provides outside opportunities for both dogs and cats: dog runs with shaded covers for sunny days and an outdoor area with an enclosed Purr…fect Fence.
The recreation area at Joliet Township Animal Control would include nine runs. Seven will be along the back and two will wrap around the corner of the building, about 60 feet worth of runs. “Recess” times will rotate among the dogs, allowing 9 of them outside at any given time.
To date, Joliet Township Animal Control has only raised $3,000, mostly through private contributions. Its December holiday photo shoot netted about $400. Another fundraiser is planned for February.
Gimbel feels that extra exercise for the dogs will do more than promote physical fitness. It will boost the dogs’ morale, making them more adoptable.
“The dogs get so excited when people want to adopt them, the people get overwhelmed,” Gimbel said. “If they can burn off some of the extra energy, they’ll have a much better chance of getting adopted.”
What about the cats? Because cats are great escape artists, it’s harder to offer outdoor activity for them, but they do have indoor playtime; they are not confined to cages all day. Perhaps in the future cats will enjoy outdoor fun, too. For now, though, the concentration is just on the dogs, Gimbel said.