What I have learned from Top of Ohio Pet Shelter

I have been a volunteer for the shelter for over six years. I am heartbroken that our shelter is closing. I have worked through three different shelter administrations. I have seen mismanagement in the past but have stayed involved because of my love for the animals. Each time we got new management my hopes went up that this time we would get it right. Recently with our new director Barbara Faulkner, a new board and Randy Schmidt, I again had great hopes. I saw Barbara and Randy take on an enormous responsibility, trying to dig us out once again. I saw firsthand their commitment to turning our shelter around against insurmountable odds. The shelter struggles to overcome a reputation of mistrust and mismanagement in addition to a lack of funding.

I know our shelter has had many problems in the past. This time I saw us moving in a positive direction. Barbara took over a thankless job and worked full-time hours on a part-time salary to try to save our shelter. The staff and volunteers are the most amazing, generous, giving people I have ever known. They spend hours walking dogs to get them out of their kennels, loving them so that they would not fear  people and taking them on endless adoption events, giving up their weekends to do so.

I have learned that no matter how hard you try, when  your community does not support your efforts, you are doomed to fail. The shelter survives on a combination of dog license fees, fundraisers, income from bingo, help from some of our local businesses and donations.

Our community has to assume some responsibility for our shelter closing. When it is estimated that over half the dog owners in Logan County do not license their dogs, that hurts our shelter. When members of our community cannot spare an hour or two of their time to volunteer, that hurts our shelter. Irresponsible pet owners who do not spay and neuter their pets yet feel free to drop off their unwanted litter of puppies and literally boxes of kittens, that hurts our shelter. But most of all, when you have haters on social media screaming at the top of their lungs on a daily basis nothing but hatred, condemnation, misinformation and criticizing every effort that is being made, that destroys our shelter. Their negativity has cost us volunteers, donations and what is left of our reputation.

While their passion is not in question, their  judgment certainly is. If they love the shelter as much as they profess, why not use that passion to help, not hurt the animals that they claim to love so dearly. It’s easy to sit back and criticize when you aren’t the one having to  make the tough decisions.

I shudder to think of what is going to happen to all the abandoned, abused, neglected and sick dogs, to the litters of unwanted kittens and puppies that will no longer find refuge in our shelter. To the people of our community who have dumped their dogs, who sneak in after hours to leave their dogs, who have literally thrown them over our fence, who have tied them to the shelter’’s  mailbox in the middle of the night ... I shudder to think what you are going to do with them  now. And to the social media haters that no longer have the shelter to batter, Ohio  has over 250 puppy mills where animals are living in horrendous, disgusting conditions, maybe now you could direct your anger and outrage to actually doing something constructive like shutting them down.

Becky Babyak, Bellefontaine