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Interview with Animal Control Warden Loralyn Valencia

By Deborah Simcox

“Ah, what a cute puppy!” How easy it is to fall in love with a warm, cuddly ball of fur that licks your nose in such an adorable way. Fast forward a few years (or even months) and this could be the hungry, homeless, dirty dog you see wandering the streets. Why so many stray dogs?

Fayette County Animal Control Warden Loralyn Valencia holds two puppies recently at the shelter. Photo by Leah Williams.

Fayette County Control Officer Loralyn Valencia had much to say about why so many dogs end up homeless. She said that there are many factors to figure in to owning a four legged fur-baby.

Valencia listed considering the breed(s) of the dog, first of all. Many breeds (even if only partially that breed) have possible health issues. Often after the “cuteness” wears off and the dog matures, a health issue problematic to that breed appears, resulting in heart break for the family and costly veterinary bills. Not wanting the children to see an animal decline in health or unable to afford the medical bills, some families will drive the animal far away from their home and “drop it off”, believing that “someone” will take it home. This rarely happens! So investigate the possible genetic health problems of the breed before making a “forever” commitment to the dog.

Consider the life expectancy of the dog and your life expectancy. Remember that very few nursing homes will allow their patients to bring their beloved dogs to the facility with them. Also consider your lifestyle. Do you travel a lot? Some animals travel well, some not. How long of a period of time will your dog be left alone?

Living space must be considered, too. Regardless of size, many breeds need more exercise than others. Dogs that “soil” their homes are often in necessity of more space and/or more exercise. Consider that this might be a “need” rather than just “bad behavior”. Speaking of behavior, consider obedience training, whether a tutorial on YouTube or by a professional trainer. Contemplate, too, the breed’s grooming needs and if you have the time, patience and equipment to keep your dog groomed. Or you may prefer to pay a professional groomer.

Take into account how “dog friendly” your neighbors and community are. Some people may have more exacting expectations of limits to how and where your pet may wander than you have.

Before a dog can be “adopted out” by a licensed “Rescuer” it must be vaccinated (including against rabies), spayed or neutered, wormed, and implanted with a microchip. Fayette County Animal Control is not an adoption shelter. They network with “Rescuers” who are licensed, such as Second Chance, and who can “adopt out” to forever homes.

To those who want an unsprayed or unneutered dogs for breeding purposes, Officer Valencia stated, “If considering breeding your pet, just because it was a cute pup, does not mean that they (the puppies) will find an appropriate “forever” home.”

Outdoor dogs must have shelter to protect them from the elements, including rain and wind. When asked about dogs sheltering under a porch, Valencia said, “Not unless the porch is enclosed on three sides from the elements.” Straw (not hay) is a better insulator for heat rather than blankets.

Matching the right dog to the right home will reduce the number of stray, homeless dogs in our community.