Workers at Wilson County’s animal control center are hoping that a new type of flooring will do more than just spruce up the place for potential pet adopters. They think it’ll improve the quality of the surroundings for animal control staff, and the animals under their watch, and they all feel it’s high time for that upgrade.

Animal Control Director Mary Scruggs said the facility needed the face lift.

“It’s not something we can scrub over, the building is just old,” said Scruggs of the facility’s wear and tear.

With the new flooring, the animal control facility won’t just look better, it will be safer and more sanitary for the dogs. The product combines a polyurea proprietary blend base with a polyaspartic top coat. Much like similar flooring in hospitals, this material is easy to sanitize and disinfect.

Scruggs requested the item be included in the upcoming budget for fiscal year 2021-22. The budget committee approved it during a meeting last week, so it is now in the hands of the county commission. The upgrade will cost roughly $10,000.

Animal control isn’t just requesting new floors. After lining the floors in the kennels, the plan is to extend the material a few feet up the walls. Scruggs said that the walls can often bear a heavy brunt in the kennels. The durable and scrubbable material will make cleanup easier and hopefully will prevent excessive damage from the canine guests.

After all, as Scruggs puts it, the dogs at animal control are just guests. The ultimate goal is always to find them a forever home.

While the thought of animal control likely conjures the image of a dog catcher, and carries undertones of euthanization, Scruggs stressed that they are not in the business of putting dogs down. Scruggs said she and her co-workers encounter the myth regularly in their day-to-day work and that dispelling the misconception can be frustrating.

“We don’t put down dogs here unless we absolutely have to, like in a case with a vicious dog, that has to be euthanized for safety reasons,” she said.

Wilson County’s animal control services are dedicated to their mission to educate, not confiscate. Scruggs said this does lead to some challenges in the field.

“We can’t always insist on just taking care of and sheltering these animals, because once you add care, you start to lose control.”

Scruggs said that animal control has a responsibility to reconnect owners with lost dogs, and keep county residents and their pets safe, and that sometimes for that to work, consequences for not following the rules have to be enforced.

When the facility does take a dog in, and can’t find its owner, animal control steps up to find a new home for the canine. The center’s personnel do everything they can to ensure this happens, and sometimes get creative in doing so.

“We send a lot of our dogs to other states for adoption,” said Paula Heird, the animal control office manager. In fact, over the weekend, two dogs were shipped out, one to Pennsylvania and one to New Jersey on their way to a new home.

A lot of adoptions take place in-house. Personnel regularly updates websites with information about the dogs in their care, so interested potential adopters can browse and then come to the facility and pick one out.

Scruggs said that when they do have potential suitors come to adopt a dog, the deteriorated flooring doesn’t present the atmosphere they are trying to create. Since it’s going to be the first time the new owners meet their dog, Scruggs feels it’s important that the room be clean and inviting.

Based on the bulletin boards around the facility lined with “thank you” letters and postcards, many homes have been made happier through the adoption process, and it’s a tradition Scruggs and the rest of Wilson County Animal Control want to continue.

One letter from an Amy Virkler starts out, “I can’t believe last Saturday has been one year since we picked up Maggie. She is just the sweetest girl and brings us so much joy.”

Scruggs said the goal is to return dogs to their rightful owners, but that when that becomes untenable, the best result is happy adoptive parents.

Originally, the animal control administrators had conducted all the center’s business under one roof. Then they brought in a second office for administrative staff. With just the minor improvement, Scruggs said the personnel have been able to work more efficiently, and that the dogs are better taken care of.

She looks to the success of office improvement as evidence that a little bit can go a long way and hopes this will be the same with the new flooring.

The center is located at 378 Dump Road, Lebanon. It’s just past the weigh-in scales at the Wilson County Landfill.

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