Jackson County's animal shelter makes much needed improvements

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Jackson County is transforming its shelter to a more animal friendly and welcoming place. The shelter has been accused in the past of lacking good customers service and unclean conditions. As the shelter's director told supervisors Monday, the upgrades are improving the adoptions rate.

Peggy Hoffman has worked with homeless animals at the Jackson County shelter for eight years and she's seen a lot of changes.

"It was dingy when I first got here, and everything was like a dirty white," Hoffman said.

Director Bill Richman has also heard the same complaints from customers.

"Not a pleasant place to visit," Richman said.

With the county's financial help and some volunteering, shelter employees have added more color to the walls, created murals and made the place more welcoming.

"Our workers have uniforms tops, so they can be easily identified and you can ask them anything about any of the animals," Hoffman said.

Richman shared these improvements with supervisors Monday. He also told the board the shelter a smells and looks a lot better for animals and customers.

"We sanitize every day. We always have done that, but we have tried new sanitizers," Richman said.

Richman said some tips came from the community and visiting other shelters, including loading pets' pictures on the county's website. Those changes have helped increase the adoption rate at the shelter.

"It is up 15 to 20 percent," Richman said.

The shelter's hours are also changing to better accommodate the public. County officials said they're happy to finally hear some good news coming out of this shelter.

"If people realize where we came from six or five years ago and where we are today, it is light year's difference," Supervisor John McKay said.

"It is a real plus for Jackson County, compared to what has been," Supervisor Melton Harris said about the improvements.

Richman admits the shelter is still nowhere near perfect.

"We still have a way to go in that regard, but I think we are heading in the right direction," Richman said about the shelter's progress.

The shelter will now open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays instead of 8 a.m. to noon. Also, people will have to now pay a $15 surrender fee and the shelter's reclaim fee is also increasing.

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