PARIS – âIf having a soul means being able to feel love, loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than many humans. This is what famous British veterinarian James Herriot said.
The animals at Responsible Pet Care exemplify this feeling. Lucky for them, they have a team of animal lovers who provide care, training and a deep determination to help these animals live their best lives.
The alpha of the team is Shelter Operations Director Mitchell Shaw. Shaw, 39, from Paris, is a familiar face in the Oxford Hills who recently guided young people as the school resources office at Guy E. Rowe School. The former Norwegian Police Department officer also worked in law enforcement in Denver, Colorado.
Shaw, who grew up on a dairy farm in Paris, has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Criminology. However, he says, he went to RPC to “refocus in a different direction.” He started there as a dog handler and was quickly appointed assistant manager. Now, as the site manager, he has plenty of ideas to save money, improve the quality of care and keep the placements running smoothly.
The first thing Shaw did was bring in Dawn Marie Reynolds. Reynolds, 29, of Bridgton, is a qualified veterinary technician and owner of Libra Dog Training. Reynolds left the Naples Veterinary Clinic, an extension of the Norwegian Veterinary Hospital, to come to RPC to oversee the canine portion as director of canine operations.
With several years of experience in shelters – both Harvest Hills in Fryeburg and RPC – âI knew I wanted to focus more on training,â she says, âand helping dogs become better versions of. themselves.” She does this by working with dogs to help them overcome fears and aggression (often rooted in fear) so that they become adoptable.
She will also work with potential adopters before they choose a dog to help them determine which dog is best suited for them, their lifestyle, and their family.
Shaw and Reynolds both agree that returning an adopted dog to the shelter because things weren’t working out isn’t good for anyone.
RPC President Shirley Boyce says (of Shaw and Reynolds) that she is “in awe of what they’ve been able to accomplish in the short time they’ve worked together.”
Boyce Lists New Dog Procedures, Introducing New Thoughts on Housing and “Improving Lives” [of the animals] in our refuge.
One of the major changes the two have made to RPC is the purchase of an IDEXX Lab Testing Machine that allows RPC to test any animal for health issues.
IDEXX, which is both a laboratory and a manufacturer of machines used to test blood and feces among other things, works with shelters to help them save money by doing their own tests.
âI had known about the shelter program since I volunteered at Harvest Hills,â says Reynolds. The program works around vets who update their own testing machines, can donate refurbished equipment to the Shelters Program, which allows shelters across the United States to purchase a machine at a price very small, allowing them internal diagnostic capabilities.
RPC can now analyze blood and urine and for samples that it cannot analyze internally, it can send samples to IDEXX for analysis at a reduced rate.
âThis enables internal services,â Boyce explains, âand allows us to learn more about the health of our animals prior to adoption.â Since RPC only publishes healthy spayed / neutered animals that are up to date on all fronts, it also helps users save money on potential health issues that may not have been covered. diagnosed in the past.
âThis means that we can send a dog to his new home with a complete blood and fecal workup allowing us to better understand the health of the dog,â added Reynolds.
Reynolds noted that what cost RPC around $ 180 for a blood panel –a group of tests that assess cells that circulate in the blood, including red and white blood cells and platelets. The panel or complete blood count (CBC) can assess general health and detect a variety of diseases and conditions, such as infections, anemia and leukemia – in the past it now costs them $ 40 to do it in-house. âPlus,â she adds, âthere is no exam fee!
Boyce and Shaw agree that in the first month of purchasing IDEXX equipment, they saved several hundred dollars.
âThis allows every penny donated to be spent sparingly,â Boyce explains.
Improving the quality of care and the quality of life for adoptees and adopters are some of Shaw’s goals for RPC. “We want to increase the efficiency of our operations and implement the best procedures so that every person and every animal has a better adoption experience.”
âWe want the adopter to get the best animal possible,â adds Boyce.
Reynolds, who focuses on canine guests, says his goal is to ensure that “dogs get the best possible quality of life in the shelter, which improves their quality of life in their permanent home.”
She intends to advance the training of all dogs in their care for “consistency, so new owners can continue training the dog after adoption.”
“By having an in-house trainer,” Boyce explains, “she can develop an individual plan for each dog based on each dog’s needs.”
Another favorite Reynolds project is food. Convinced that an animal’s diet plays a huge role not only in its health but also in its behavior, she says, âby giving dogs a more appropriate diet, with better quality food, we will not only eliminate the diarrhea (a common problem in stressed dogs) but help them with their emotional health.
“We are now taking a holistic approach,” added Shaw, “mind, diet and health.”
RPC’s wishlist can be found on Chewy. (On the Chewy site, click donate, then donate to a rescue, then put Paris, Maine, and RPC will show in the list. Click on it and its wishlist will show.)
Reynolds notes that when people who give food learn they need better food, they respond and give better food. She says anyone who wants to find out what she can help can find RPC Wishlists on Chewy. She offers Hill’s Perfect Digestion as RPC’s favorite dog food.
According to Shaw, some future goals include low-cost sterilization and sterilization options, increased communication with education and resources for the community, and building a roster of vets ready to come to the shelter to spay and neuter in the community. the refuge’s surgery room.
âWe would also like to be able to do DNA testing,â Reynolds says and hope people will be willing to donate money for this purpose. âThen we are able to tell potential owners what exactly their new dog is (are). “
Sponsorship / Volunteering
With the temporary decline of COVID this summer and the lifting of the moratorium on evictions, as well as an increase in the number of people returning to work, Shaw says that RPC has recently seen the number of surrenders increase.
âThere is never enough money or space,â Boyce adds.
I would like people to realize that animals are totally dependent on us, helpless like children, a trust placed in us. Jacques Herriot
Currently there are around 13 dogs at RPC in Paris plus a number in foster homes. RPC has over 100 cats. âWe want to develop a broader fostering program,â says Reynolds, âthat will allow us to focus on dogs that need more help so that they can be ready for adoption.â
âWe have people who can help foster homes navigate the foster program,â Boyce adds. “And Dawn can also help keep dogs in their [original] houses.”
Shaw is responding to the need for more volunteers. âWe are working hard to build our volunteer program. This could include walking a dog once or several times a week, a cat and dog care technician, dropping off or picking up an animal from a veterinarian, and helping with laundry. A few hours a week from each volunteer can make a big difference, they agree.
Anyone interested in learning more about the Host Program or volunteering can contact RPC at 743-8679. The opening hours of the refuge are Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 4 p.m. or by appointment. More information is available on the RPC website, Responsiblepetcare.org.
RPC is a non-profit shelter located at 9 Swallow Road, Paris, opposite the Paris Primary School.