Who Rescued Who?

 

Words by Connie Lewis Leonard

Photography by Dawn Skinner

Hood County Animal Control (HCAC) is not a dog pound. Sergeant Kelly McNab and her staff are not the mean dog catchers portrayed by Hollywood. They are committed and compassionate about caring for animals, going above and beyond the call of duty to give animals a second chance at life.

Poppy was placed in the quarantine room for observation. Every time someone would walk into the room, he would scream, defecate, curl up in the corner and shake. For some unknown reason, Kelly couldn’t give up on him. She said, “It wasn’t fair because he was so scared.” She wrapped him in a towel, carried him to her office and placed him in a crate with the door open. About two hours later, while sitting at her desk working, Kelly felt something scratching on her leg. Looking down, she saw Poppy begging to be picked up. He trembled as she cradled him in her arms.

That’s when it all began. Poppy chose her. She kept him in her office for about a week, taking baby steps toward his rehabilitation and trust. When she took him home, he stayed close for reassurance because she was his “dog mom.” Gradually he became part of Kelly’s pack. Poppy wasn’t the first dog Kelly has rescued, and he probably won’t be the last. She said, “I am happiest helping animals. That is my joy.”

Kelly began volunteering at HCAC in 2011. She did everything she could—cleaning the kennels, bathing and socializing animals and transporting them to rescues. When a position opened in December 2012, she became a full-time employee. In February 2013, the director resigned, and she became Sergeant Kelly.

Her eyes sparkle as she says, “I was very excited to be promoted to Sergeant of Animal Control. There were programs I wanted to implement to help the community and animals. I have always been an animal lover. Animals have always been a part of my family. I have a passion for helping them. We are their voices. If we don’t help them, who will?”

Kelly and her staff are the designated enforcers of the Hood County Animal Restraint and Rabies Control Order as well as state laws. The employees I have observed as a volunteer do so much more than the basic requirements of providing food, water, and a clean kennel. They name the unclaimed strays. They call them by their names, acknowledging their identity, they love on them, try to develop trust and play with them when time allows. They get to know the animals so they can talk about each one to prospective adopters.

HCAC works with rescue organizations all over the United States. Locally they have great partnerships with HALO, Friends for Animals and Second Chance Farms. They work with humane societies throughout Texas and the region. I was quite surprised to learn that animals from Hood County go to rescue organizations as far away as Colorado, Michigan and New York. Some rescue organizations are breed specific: herding dogs, terriers, retrievers, boxers, even basic black since some people are reluctant to adopt black cats or dogs.

Our interview was interrupted several times as Kelly diligently answered regular calls while working to schedule transports to various rescue groups. Some cities have strict spay and neuter ordinances and require license and registration for breeders, resulting in fewer available rescues in their area. HCAC also works with fosters, people who take care of an animal, often a momma with a litter of babies, keeping them until they are ready for adoption. Fosters also train and socialize animals to prepare them for their forever home.

 

The director of Hood County Animal Control, Sergeant Kelly Mcnab, with her rescued Chihuahua, Poppy.

The HCAC staff stays busy with clerical work, manning the front desk and phones, making field calls to check on loose dogs, animal bites (including scratches that break the skin), welfare checks, rabies control and picking up trapped animals. Although their jobs are rewarding, some days are tough. Volunteers can help ease the load for the officers and make a positive impact on the lives of homeless pets. They can help with administrative duties, working special events and help with day to day tasks including laundry, grooming, walking, talking to and exercising the animals. Volunteers can also help network for foster, rescue and transport.

Kelly said, “I don’t know where we’d be without our volunteers. The average time spent with dogs in a facility is 15 minutes a day, but we don’t want to be part of that statistic. Dogs are pack animals. People are their pack. They need one-on-one time because the more socialized they are, the more adoptable they are.”

When I began volunteering at HCAC, the old facility was small, outdated and not easily accessible. With support from the community, the sheriff, County Commissioners and judge approval, the new facility was opened in October 2014. It is a beautiful, secure, state of the art facility. The individual kennels are larger, with a door so each dog can be inside or outside. Cats now have their own separate area. Prospective adopters can get acquainted with the animals in the enclosed meet and greet room, or they can take dogs for walks or to play in the fenced grassy area. It also has a holding area where dogs are evaluated for adoptability and housed for 72 hours, giving owners an opportunity to claim their pets before they are put up for adoption.

On average, 130-140 dogs and 120-130 cats come into HCAC per month. Many are reclaimed by their owners. Those that are adoptable are networked through the rescue organizations.

A group of local businesses provided an adoption/rescue trailer following the tornado which displaced over 200 pets. Fosters and local veterinarians stepped up to house many of these animals. The trailer with built-in kennels is now used for off-site adoption events, usually scheduled for the third Saturday of each month. Sometimes these events are held more often if businesses call and invite HCAC to their location.

Hood County Animal Control is located at 1550 Weatherford Hwy, Granbury, TX. 76048.

If you are interested in adopting, volunteering, or donating, please call 817-573-4277.

(L-R) Kimberly Jordan, Kaleigh Greer, Kelly Mcnab, Lt. Lynn McDonald, Sheriff Roger Deeds, Frank Hackett, Lori buchholtz, Lauren Fegan

On average, 130-140 dogs and 120-130 cats come into HCAC per month. Many are reclaimed by their owners. Those that are adoptable are networked through the rescue organizations.