Good Shepherd welcomes new shelter vet

Thursday, September 3, 2020

By Samantha Jones

After years of dedicated service, Dr. John Muller is retiring from caring for the animals at Good Shepherd Humane Society Adoption Center.

Animal services director Cole Wakefield announced Muller’s retirement at the regular Good Shepherd board meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 26, saying the adoption center will now be working with Dr. Zack Scheurich and the Spay Arkansas program. Wakefield said Scheurich is based in Northwest Arkansas with his own veterinarian practice. He has experience in animal welfare from working free mobile clinics in Washington State and other shelters, Wakefield said.

“He officially starts on Sept. 1, but he’s already come by to meet the staff. He will be by the shelter every other week,” Wakefield said. “Spay Arkansas is going to be there every other week. We’re going to try to do it where it’s basically staggered, so there will be a vet on-site every week whether it’s Dr. Zach or with Spay Arkansas.”

Wakefield said he has ordered new equipment for the spay and neuter program, but the adoption center is waiting to purchase anesthesia machines. In the meantime, Wakefield said, the adoption center will borrow two anesthesia machines so there’s more time to write grants for the equipment.

“We can’t buy the equipment and write a grant for it, but we can borrow some equipment and write some grants,” Wakefield said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to reduced some costs in that way.”

Wakefield presented the adoption numbers for June, saying 57 animals were adopted and four were returned to their owner. The adoption center did lose five kittens over the month, Wakefield said, which is a common occurrence during kitten season. Wakefield said it’s normal for one or two kittens in a litter to die of Fading Kitten Syndrome.

“That’s why cats have so many kittens, because sometimes they just don’t make it,” Wakefield said. “It’s sad. It’s really sad when you’re caring for them. As we take in more kittens, we’re going to see those numbers get higher.”

Wakefield added, “It’s the strangest thing in the world. You can have a kitten that’s completely healthy and gone the next day. It’s just genetics. It’s tough.”

Board member Carmen Caldwell asked what it’s like to take in litters of puppies or kittens.

“If someone brings in five puppies, can we insist they get their dog spayed?” Caldwell asked.

“Generally what happens on surrenders with entire litters … is that they’re bringing us the mom,” Wakefield said. “But we do encourage that. That’s a talk we’ve had. ‘Where’s the mom? Where’s the dad?’ We definitely have those discussions every time a litter comes in.”

Wakefield announced that a dog tech has resigned and said the adoption center isn’t refilling that position. Instead, Wakefield said, the duties will be distributed among existing staff and all the animal techs will get a raise of $1 per hour.

“We’ll still be able to save $1,000 a month with that change,” Wakefield said.

Board president Jay Fusaro commended Wakefield on his “out-of-the-box thinking.”

“I just think it’s a huge win. The staff gets $1 an hour raise and Good Shepherd saves $12,000 a year,” Fusaro said.

“I know the animal techs appreciate it,” Wakefield said. “That $1 an hour means something to them.”

“It shows we’re not just putting extra work on them and saying, ‘You’re going to do more for the same pay,’ “ Fusaro said.

The adoption center will now be accepting intakes only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Wakefield said.

“We’ll always be available in emergency situations, but now we’re only going to do scheduled intakes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, which is when we’ll have two dog techs,” Wakefield said.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23, at the meet and greet room at the adoption center.

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