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First Stop For Wayward Pets

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

We're a few months into our new kennel contract with the town of Tiverton, and wow, it is not at all what we were presented with. Prior to our bidding, we were told it was no more than eighty dogs a year, everyone got picked up right away, and the last place that had the contract never got saddled with stray dogs needing adoption. With all due respect to this town we love...none of that could have been further from the truth. We've been swamped, overwhelmed with dogs and a town and ACO that don't know what to do after the five-day hold has passed...and they're not taking steps to find out. It's been a steep learning curve for us, as not only have we been the holding facility (for which we signed on), but we also have turned out to be the one's doing all of the leg work and social networking in order to reunite dogs with their owners - which was clearly not in our job description. We're going to try to work with the town in the hopes that they realize there is a lot they need to find out from the state so that they can take the appropriate actions when it is time for them to take back over regarding an unclaimed animal.

Well, we've got to get back to work (because we've got more work than we contracted for!), but here is the most recent article about the kennel...three months in. The entire article continues under the front page picture, or for those of you with a subscription to East Bay Newspapers, you can see the original here.

Half of the garage became space for animals, the other half for office, educational

space and small gift shop.

State rules (based on population) dictated the shelter’s capacity — six spaces for

Tiverton, three for Little Compton. A few extras were added (the state is pushing sheters to add space to deal with emergencies such as big storms) so that there are now a total of 13 spaces for dogs and cats and one for a bird.

They didn’t have to wait long for tenants.

The contract began July 1. That’s the time that pets really start getting out — summer vacation has started, kids leave the door open, the invisible fence battery dies, summer people arrive, dogs jump out car windows ... We were full almost immediately — for the next six weeks we were at capacity.

State rules also dictate that dogs and cats only stay at shelters for up to five days — thereafter they go to adoption facilities. Because that’s a short time, they do their best to reunite the pets with owners —social media has been an especially effective way to get word out.

And most are retrieved quickly, Ms. Taylor said. Owners realize the pet has vanished, call police, find out if such a dog has been picked up, and provide proof of ownership.

Fines are also involved. Ms Taylor said people seeking a lost pet should first call police, not the shelter since only police have the authority to release an animal to its owner.

But in those first months, nobody came for five of the dogs. “In these cases, we were fortunate that nearby pet adoption places,” among them RISPCA, agreed to take animals.

They kept one, a pit bull mix, longer than five days to give the owner every chance to

retrieve him.

“Pit bulls are more difficult to adopt out which is a shame,” she said. RISPCA eventually evaluated Jack, as he had come to be called, and took him in. “They were amazng ... He is a great dog and will make a wonderful pet for some lucky family.”

West Place provides some basic medical care to the animals it takes — fleas, eye ailments, foot issues “but we are not equipped for more involved medical problems. Regulations state that strays brought in may only be taken to a veterinarian in cases of life and death medical matters — towns don’t wish to be saddled with such bills and there are concerns that owners won’t take pets back if they come with big medical bills.

The case of Cody, that first arrival, was another matter entirely.

“Lots of ‘owners’ stepped forward to claim him.”

This dog turned out to be a 12-month old male breedable purebred German shorthaired pointer, a breed that is in considerable demand, especially since winning best-in-show at the Westminster show a few years ago.

One person went to the police station with phony papers proving their ownership of the dog claiming it to be an 8-year-old female (West Place does not reveal such things as age and sex).

That didn’t work so that person returned, this time with papers showing their missing

dog to be a 2-year-old male. Police were again unimpressed.

Another went to the trouble of tacking lost dog posters onto poles around town — complete with 2006 photo found on the internet of a German shorthaired pointer.

“It didn’t look anything like the one we had,” Ms. Taylor said.

Eventually (long after the five days had passed) rather than send him off, “we decided to adopt him ourselves. He is now a permanent resident here, making friends with the farm animals, having a great time.”

Registration is the key. Remarkably, none of the dogs brought by officers to West Place this summer has arrived with tags.

Many owners who came in to retrieve pets acknowledged that they had neglected to take the required step of registration.

“We tell people, ‘If you do that, you will have your dog back in five minutes,’” without the fines, paperwork and trouble.

To that end, West Place will participate in a dog registration event at this Saturday’s

(Sept. 15) Country Day at Pardon Gray, conducted by the Tiverton Land Trust right next

door to West Place). It costs only $10 to register a dog — just bring a rabies vaccination


The event list also includes a pooch parade.

Comedy fundraiser

To help pay the costs of the garage-to-pet

holding center transformation, West Place

will hold a comedy fundraiser on Saturday,

Oct. 6, at the West Warwick Elks Lodge.

Doors open at 6 and the show starts at 7.

There will also be raffles, drawings and a

silent and live auction. Tickets are $25 visit for tickets.(For

ages 18 and over.


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