Volunteer program to be based on Boone

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By Jeff Moore

A local group hopes to use Boone County volunteer guidelines and training materials to develop its procedures as it works to establish regular office hours at Carroll County’s animal shelter.

Both Carroll County Animal Support and Carroll County Fiscal Court agree the orientation and handbook used at the Boone County Animal Shelter are what is needed to facilitate animal adoptions using volunteers at the local shelter.

CCAS Executive Director Tammie Crawford said several members went to Boone County and sat through the volunteer orientation.

“I really like the way they did it,” Crawford said.

They also brought back copies of the handbook and training materials that they will use to develop the ones to put in place for Carroll’s shelter on Dean’s Ferry Road, located off Boone Road.

The handbook used in Boone County outlines the policies for all volunteers who plan to work at the shelter. It includes details on training for new volunteers, a list of jobs, rules on feeding the animals, facility guidelines, adoptions and appropriate behavior. It also includes a waiver of liability and an agreement that states volunteers must follow policies in the handbook they must sign.

Magistrates at the Nov. 12 fiscal court meeting expressed their support for CCAS using the Boone County model.

“It looked excellent to me,” District 3 Magistrate Mark Bates said.

District 1 Magistrate Floyd Bowling said he would like to see CCAS adopt these for working at the Carroll County shelter.

“They are good ones,” District 2 Magistrate Dean Miller agreed.

Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson said with the training and volunteer guidelines in place, it helps to address his concerns about the county’s liability.

The final area to be worked out in establishing CCAS regular hours at the shelter is insurance coverage.

Tomlinson said CCAS has run into difficulty finding an insurance company to write a policy to provide liability coverage for its volunteers.

The county will look at how much it will cost to add this as a rider to its coverage, he said.

The training and handbook from Boone County would help show the insurance company how the program would operate here when it gets under way, Tomlinson said.

“We’re waiting for the go ahead,” Crawford said. Once she gets the OK from the county, she said the materials will be prepared and the first orientation for volunteers will be scheduled.

Crawford said she expects a decent turnout when CCAS can begin operating the adoption program at the shelter. Through the years, she said a lot of people have indicated they want to work at the shelter.

To do so, under the program to be developed from the Boone County model, volunteers sign a waiver agreeing not to hold the county liable for injury as a result of accidents that may occur while performing volunteer work at the shelter.

“Part of the animal population at the shelter are stray animals with no knowledge of medical condition or behavior,” the Boone County waiver states. “Because of this fact, I understand that it is recommended that I be up to date on Tetanus vaccine and should consider pre-exposure rabies vaccines. Should I feel the need for these vaccines they will be at my cost.”

Crawford said volunteers would have to sign this waiver and she would also like to institute a background check through the Administrative Office of the Courts that is also used in Boone County.

Volunteers would learn the proper terminology they need to use at a shelter, based on the Boone County model. This includes how to set up adoption holds and the process for an adoption.

The training materials show that a “well-dressed volunteer” has a friendly smile on her face, long sleeves, long pants, closed-toed shoes and identification.

The volunteer handbook in Boone County lists an array of jobs for volunteers that include assisting with visitors, taking dogs from the cages for adopters, walking dogs, socializing cats, cleaning the grooming room, keeping the lobby straightened up, pooper scooping the grassy areas, laundry, checking ID cards, sweeping, giving animals water, bathing dogs, grooming animals, letting dogs out to potty, exercise or play or even to work with dogs on basic commands, if experienced with training.

Volunteers are provided with safety information requiring that any bites or scratches be reported to the staff so an animal can be quarantined. “This is for your safety, as well as the staff and potential adopters,” the materials from Boone County explain.

The training helps to educate those working with the animals on locking doors, gates and cages, areas where they are allowed and where they cannot enter, such as the treatment room at the shelter.

The Boone County program also stresses the importance of having a cooperative atmosphere at the shelter. It states that volunteers can sometimes say or do something that strains it.

“We all want what is best for the animals, but we cannot be effective without a cooperative working relationship between shelter staff and the volunteers. Please remember that while volunteers are an extremely appreciated and valuable resource at the shelter, the staff is a group of experienced professionals who must sometimes make difficult decisions in the best interest of an animal.”

It goes on to tell volunteers to use the term “euthanasia” when discussing one of the more unpleasant, but necessary parts, of the job.

Under the Boone County materials, a volunteer faces disciplinary action if rules are violated. Three reprimands will lead to dismissal as a volunteer.

“I was hoping to get in before Christmas,” Crawford said. However, she said that isn’t realistic now with the work that has to be completed after CCAS gets the green light from the county. She expects it will take several weeks to prepare for the first orientation needed to allow volunteers to begin opening the shelter for adoptions.