We sat down to talk with Janell Holden who is the lead community service officer at the Teton County Animal Shelter in Jackson Hole, WY after Florence McCall Photography partnered with us and donated her time to help the animals there find their forever home!
To see the photoshoot with Flo, you can check it out here.
We wanted to learn a little more about the shelter and what we could do to help them and help more animals in general.
Lens And Leash: How long have you been the Animal Shelter manager and how long has the shelter been open in Jackson?
Janelle Holden: I have been the Lead Community Service Officer here for about 4 years and have worked here since May 2011. The Shelter has been in the Adams Canyon location since 1996 and in operation in the valley for over 30 years.
Lens And Leash: What is the average number of animals needing to be adopted each month?
Janelle Holden: As many as possible! Our numbers change drastically throughout the year (seasonal, mostly). As an example, our monthly adoption rate in 2017 ranged from 4 to 17 on any given month.
Lens And Leash: What is your goal for the JH Animal Shelter for 2018?
Janelle Holden: My personal goal is to develop a more structured and successful volunteer program in 2018 to directly benefit the animals and help them find homes sooner. As a shelter, our ongoing goals are to increase adoption rates, decrease the overall number of homeless pets in the community, and continue to help educate the public on responsible pet ownership.
Lens And Leash: In a community like Jackson where almost everyone has a dog/cat already do you find it difficult to find homes for the animals in the shelter?
Janelle Holden: The most common reason we get animals surrendered to us is due to housing limitations. That has also proven to make adoptions more difficult as well. Also, the fact that most residents have multiple animals, we find it harder to place animals that have limited social skills with other animals and need to be only pets so those particular ones do tend to stick around here a little longer until the right home comes around.
Lens And Leash: If we could help you in any way possible what would you ask for?
Janelle Holden: As you know, social media is probably the primary way we get animal profiles out there these days… and a good picture goes a long way in striking the interest of potential owners! Maybe helping us highlight a particular animal with a good picture every week or every other week on social media would go a long way! Also spreading the word about the pets and our needs (e.g. volunteers) is also immensely helpful.
Lens And Leash: If someone wanted to donate in any way they could, what would you ask for first?
Janelle Holden: As far as donations, tangible items such as cat litter, high value dog treats (bite-sized for training), durable toys and puzzle games for the animals, and items to reduce stress such as cat and dog pheromone sprays, etc. are always incredibly helpful. In fact, we do have a more all-inclusive wish list on Amazon.com if that’s something people would like to pursue. If they’d prefer to donate financially, donating through Old Bill’s Fun Run is the most helpful and it directly benefits the animals in our care.
Lens And Leash: What is the biggest thing the JH Animal Shelter has overcome so far since opening?
Janelle Holden: The euthanasia rate has decreased from 36% of animals available for adoption in 1990 to less than .75% of animals available for adoption in 2017 and is now limited to terminally ill animals or severe aggression. So much progress has been made over the past few decades with the support of the community, prior employees, and various organizations willing to help us make this kind of change and we’re incredibly grateful!
Lens And Leash: How do you encourage people to adopt instead of purchasing an animal?
Janelle Holden: There are a lot of reasons to adopt instead of buy a pet! Here are a few of the big ones:
- It costs a lot less! Adopting a cat from us is upwards of $65 and dogs are no more than $80 which is far less than you would pay from a breeder or pet store! With every adoption, the animal will already be fixed, microchipped, and current on its basic vaccinations which could cost you hundreds extra in vet expenses otherwise. It’s a win-win!
- It not only saves this animal’s life but it saves others’ as well! According to the World Animal Foundation, 920,000 adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized every year in the US because there are simply too many homeless pets for available owners. By adopting one from a shelter, it opens up room for another homeless pet to come in and get a second chance as well. Rescuing from shelters also reduces the success rate of backyard breeders, puppy mills, and pet stores that don’t properly care for their animals and gives an otherwise deserving pet a chance at a wonderful life.
- Many are already housebroken and even well-trained! We see all sorts of animals come through the shelter, from low shedding animals to even some popular purebreds. Most of the animals we get end up here through no fault of their own and are already wonderful pets; they just found themselves in a situation where their owners could no longer keep them and are awaiting their new home. We also have a dog trainer and some very cat-savvy volunteers here that help us work through problem behaviors and help them with their basic commands. Why go through the tedious process of housebreaking and socializing if they are already ready to join your family?
- They can be the most loyal of pets! I oftentimes hear adopters say they have the most wonderfully loyal pet they could have asked for from a shelter… they’ve been homeless and many owners truly believe that their new family member knows when they hit the jackpot and willingly gives their love unconditionally from that day forward.
Lens And Leash: Do you have pets of your own and are they adopted?
Janelle Holden: I do have one dog at the moment and I actually adopted her from here 2 years ago as a 6 year old stray.
For more information about the Teton County Animal Shelter, here is there contact information:
Teton County Animal Shelter
3150 Adams Canyon Dr, Jackson, WY 83001