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January 8, 2013

New group plans to consider ideas for animal shelter

NORMAN — Friends of the Animals of Norman (FAN) will host their first meeting Thursday, with the intent of helping the Norman Animal Welfare Shelter.

The meeting will be 5:30 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at Norman City Hall. The group encourages animal lovers interested in volunteering, as well as other pet adoption facilities, to attend.

The group’s intention is to bring people with common interests together to brainstorm ideas about setting up a volunteer program for the shelter, said Glenda Peters, a charter member of FAN.

A bond issue that was passed by Norman voters in November 2011 will allow the animal shelter to expand with new construction and renovations. The facility will triple in size. However, a volunteer program will be needed to keep up with the increased number of animals that will need to be taken care of.

“Currently, we’re understaffed,” Animal Welfare Director John Bowman said. “A lot of shelters have huge volunteer programs. I have none.”

Volunteers are needed for many tasks at the shelter, Bowman said. Workers are advised to spend around 10 minutes daily with each dog. Currently, the shelter has 72 dogs — 52 in the stray hold area and 20 dogs in the adoption area.

Bowman said that would mean 720 minutes a day to take care of all of the dogs, which converts into 12 hours. Right now, a part-time person works four of those hours and an officer comes in and helps clean the animals.

Ten minutes allows time to clean the kennels and feed and water each dog, but even that is not really enough, he said. As gross as it may sound, Bowman said animals’ feces also need to be checked for tapeworms or any other sign of disease and to make sure they’re eating properly so they can preventatively treat them.

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