City animal shelter provides safe environment

Richard Chase Special to the Democrat

September 15, 2013

The Dog Days of Summer are almost over for dogs and the Durant Animal Shelter has been better than living on the streets for those abandoned and picked up by Mark Lasiter, animal control officer. Lasiter, along with several volunteer workers, make sure the animals have a clean and safe environment while awaiting disposition.

Much of the costs of the daily operation of the shelter is provided by generous donations from the public and retail merchants. Several merchants donate bags of dog food and other items including rawhide bones. Others have donated blankets, dog houses, and other supplies to help with the overall costs.

The shelter is air conditioned and has a large fan. It sits on a concrete slab for easy cleaning and has indoor kennels as well as outside kennels and a general area for roaming.

“We recently had someone donate an expensive combination heat and air unit for the shelter,” said Anna Marcy, one of the volunteers. “We may have to do some wiring to accommodate the unit, but when installed, it will add to the comfort of the animals.”

While officials say the city maintains a safe and humane shelter, the problem with unwanted animals continues to plague shelters everywhere. Pets can multiply quickly and irresponsible owners seldom have them spayed or neutered, resulting in litters of pups or kittens that they have to find homes for and usually to anyone who will take them. Some just dump the litters somewhere and let the public worry about taking care of them.

“Pet owners in the city limits of Durant should be aware of existing ordinances,” said David Houser, asst. police chief. “All pets must be contained within a fence, on a leash or chain and cannot leave the owner’s premises. Dogs may be taken for walks but must be on a leash and controlled.”

There is a limit of six adult pets allowed per household which means any species of dog, cat, bird, etc. Selling of pets curbside or in parking lots is prohibited without a license. Owners should also be aware that animals being a nuisance such as barking dogs can result in police writing the owner a citation.

The city has two animal control officers to enforce ordinances and pick up animals running loose, although there is only one at the present time. Animals picked up will be kept for a period of time to allow the owner to claim them and pay a impound fee or in some cases of repeated violation a fine may be added. Most of the abandoned dogs in Durant are rescued by animal activists who take them to other states for adoption and a few are adopted locally.

Animals held over three days may be euthanized but according to Marcy, there has been no euthanizing of healthy adoptable dogs in two years and only a handful of sick or injured dogs have been put down this year. The shelter houses an average of two to five cats on a regular basis and most of the ones euthanized are feral cats.

According to city requirements, all animals must also be vaccinated for rabies, but Lasiter said very few owners follow this rule and it would be hard to enforce.

The Oklahoma Spay Network does have reduced rates for low income families in Bryan County. For residents who qualify they can have their dogs spayed or neutered and rabies shots for $35. The cost for cats is lower. Appointments may be made by calling 580-924-5873.