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Scott Rall: Need a companion? You can have a pet practically for free

BY SCOTT RALL

The Globe outdoors columnist

As I was sitting on the couch last night with my black Labrador, Sarge’s head laying in my lap, I wondered how I could ever live a life without dogs in it. My thoughts then wandered to the investment that I have in my dogs, their training and the annual cost of just keeping them around. It is a pretty large sum, indeed.

Spending a lot of money on a dog, if all you want the dog to be a pet, is not required. There are many shelters that have more than enough dogs of all sorts and sizes to meet the needs of any human who wants a pet for companionship.

I know the guy that is the Worthington animal control officer.  His name is Josh Erwin. He is a local boy who went off to school and spread his wings a little, and after a few years he ended up back in Worthington, his home town.

I called Josh to see what he did during a normal day and what happens to the dogs and cats he picks up over the course of a week. He was kind enough to call me back within the hour and I learned a lot about what happens to those animals in my local community.

Their first rule of operation is that the shelter is operated with the intention of being a no-kill shelter. Only in the most extreme of cases is an animal ever put down, and it happens very rarely.

If Josh picks up a dog or cat, they will look for a vet tag or the city of Worthington’s license number to identify the owner. Another method is to utilize a chip reader to see if the owner has implanted a chip in the dog to help identify it if it becomes lost.  

Each cat or dog in Worthington is supposed to be licensed.  Each license lasts two years. The cost is $20 if the animal has been neutered or spayed and $30 if the animal is un-fixed. The methods I mentioned find the owners much of the time.

If there is no identification possible, they will reach out with the use of social media as a secondary tool to find the owner.

You would be surprised how often this method works. Most people would actively be looking for a lost pet. There are special dog breed rescue organizations and they can take a specific breed to their facility if the dog is unclaimed by all other methods.

Josh catches other kinds of animals if they are acting dangerously or acting oddly.  He did indicate that a bat hanging in a tree in your backyard doing what a bat would normally do is not cause to send him scurrying to your house.

If your dog gets a ride to the Worthington facility for running at large, you can claim it by calling the Worthington Police Department. If you are not a problematic owner, the cost is negligible. If you are a pain in the neck and have repeat issues with your animals, you can pay a fee and be issued a ticket.

If you want to adopt a dog or cat or are just in the thinking stages, you can call the Police Department at 507-295-5400 and set up a time with Josh to visit the facility and see what there is to pick from.

I have seen more than a few dogs that started their life out in a shelter and ended up becoming pretty fine hunting dogs. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it can happen. If you want to adopt, the only costs are the current vaccinations and the fee to spay or neuter the animal.

This is done at the Worthington Veterinary Medical Center in town, and you can be on your way with your new friend in just about no time. If you do adopt an animal and it just is not working out, you can return it to the location you got it from. Many shelter animals need a little longer period to adapt to their new surroundings.

I heard that there is no person who cannot afford one dog. It would be a matter of priorities.

If you are thinking of a possible pet, think shelter first. If you need a hunting dog, think professional breeder. Both have their place and both provide an important service.

I think I will go give Sarge another scratch behind the ears. Josh, please keep up the good work.

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