There have been a number of positive changes that have taken place at Cheatham County Animal Control since director Kristin Reid was appointed in June 2018.
Located at 2797 Sams Creek Road in Pegram, the shelter opened in June 2005 to address domestic, wildlife and livestock calls.
“Kristin is doing an incredible job,” said Cheatham County Mayor Kerry McCarver, who appointed Reid.
Reid hit the ground running as she assessed areas of the facility that needed to be addressed along with processes that required change and closer scrutiny.
“One of things we needed to tackle was cutting down the disease transmission,” Reid said. “Cleaning protocols and general care of the animals needed to be a priority and there were a lot of things that required vast and great improvements.”
Reid saw serious problems with the disinfectant that was used to clean the building.
“We were using a product that really just masked smells versus actually killing any viruses or germs that we see like Parvo or upper respiratory issues,” she said, adding that the facility switched to use a hydrogen peroxide-based product called Rescue that is safe for the animals and kills Parvo within five minutes of contact.
“Not only do we now do better at our disinfecting process and killing the live viruses that can come into this facility, but we also cut down the time it takes to clean which gives my staff more availability to do the things that they need to do,” she said.
Another critical issue for Reid was safe housing for the animals, which included both indoor and outdoor kennels for the dogs.
“Dogs were tearing down chain link fencing and trying to get after each other,” she said. “It had been so bad that some animals had to be euthanized. If it’s not safe for animals, it’s also not safe for staff.”
She noted that in the past, plywood had been used to keep animals from trying to get to each other, and the animals were simply eating through the plywood.
“Back in September, Nashville Humane partnered with Rescue Rebuild,” she said. “They came out here and volunteered their manpower and resources, all donated at no cost to us or the county.”
Reid said that chain link fencing on the inside of dog kennels were not connected and dogs were tearing at it, as well as tearing up plastic barriers between kennels where dogs were getting through and trying to attack other dogs.
“They put brand new wire-ties on the bottom of the kennels, adding chain-link fencing on the front side and back side that separates the kennels so that the dogs can’t get to each other,” she said. “Metal sheet roofing was installed between kennels so dogs can’t see each other and can’t tear through.”
Reid noted that latches on doors that were old or improperly fitted were also replaced.
Another issue that Reid addressed was changing the bedding in the kennels for the cats.
“The former process was very stressful,” she said. “Pulling a cat out every time to clean, putting them in a wire crate, made them vulnerable and was clearly not one of the best practices.”
She said that now spot cleaning is done with the cat staying in its kennel as fresh food, water and litter are provided.
“Cats can keep their bedding as long as it’s not soiled because it has their scent on it, which keeps them calmer,” she said. “Cats can get upper respiratory infections without coming into contact with germs but can get it by simply going through stress. So, imagine if you got a major sinus or bronchitis infection every time you were stressed. Spot cleaning creates a low-stress environment for them. It’s better for their health, behavior, comfort.”
Treating the animals well
Reid emphasized that animals deserve to be treated well regardless of their circumstances when they arrived.
Reid said she has seen homeless animals perk up because of a new owner, and she has seen homeless people find a richer life by having an animal to care for.
“They take better care of their animals than some of the richest people I’ve ever met,” she said. “The human-animal bond is such an amazing thing. Sometimes the animals are the only thing that saves those people’s lives. It gives them a purpose. We need to find out how we can better help the homeless community care for their animals. I’m a big supporter of how we can help the homeless community take care of the animals they have. The value of an animal to our community and our people is huge.”
Reid recalled a recent visit from a child with special needs who was looking for a dog.
“He said if he got a dog, he’d name it Rosie,” she said. “It turned out that the dog we wanted to show him was named Rosie. When they met, he looked at her and said, ‘Rosie, sit!’ And she sat and gave him her paw.”
Reid has also witnessed the impact that animals have on veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
“There is no adoption fee for active or retired military,” she said. “They’ve given their service to our country and I think that’s something we should honor. I know the value of what that animal can do for their life, and they will both benefit from that bond.
“No matter why an animal is in our care, whether it’s for bite quarantine or whether it’s aggressive to people, it doesn’t matter — that animal still deserves the same kind of humane care that I would give my own at home.”
Reid also plans to increase the adoption rate for the animals, using social media to help to promote adoption.
Helping the animals
Assisting Reid at CCAC are eight-year officer Natasha Farmer, officer Megan Buhler, clerk Jada Bradley and kennel tech Taylor Hiner.
Reid said CCAC also needs volunteers to help with walking the dogs or playing with the cats in the free roaming room.
“Check out our Facebook page and look for ‘Wish List Wednesday,’ ” Reid said, adding that donations of Purina Dog Chow and Purina Cat Chow are welcome for the pets who live at the facility and to give to people facing hard times who need food for their pets at home.
“We want to get you in the building to fall in love with your forever friend, your four-legged family member,” she said.
Reid noted that just two months ago she had to euthanize her 13-year-old dog.
“Animals change a life, gave me a purpose,” she said. “They give unconditional love even on your worse days. I think they rescue us. It is a trust bond to be honored and respected.”
Another issue Reid cited is sterilization.
“Out of the 1,000 animals we have, roughly 750 to 800 have not been neutered or spayed,” she said. “An animal cannot be adopted until it’s sterilized. There are resources for spaying and neutering.”
She recommended the Cheatham County Animal Awareness Foundation for low cost spaying and neutering. Reid said she is impressed by the care and support of Cheatham County and Middle Tennessee.
“In Middle Tennessee, all animal control facilities have the same mission,” she said. “We work well together to pool resources and offer insight and advice.”