Monroe Animal Shelter to benefit from $1,000 Rotary Club donation

Participating in a check presentation ceremony at the Monroe Animal Shelter on Purdy Hill Road Thursday are, from left, Monroe Rotary Club member Walt Pirog, President-Elect Ken Kellogg, Phil Lindstrom, Cindy Richter (holding the check), Monroe Animal Control Officer Gina Gambino, Assistant Animal Control Officer Alexandra Castro and Superintendent Joseph Kobza, who is a Rotary Club member.

MONROE, CT — Monroe Animal Control Officer Gina Gambino accepted a $1,000 donation from the Monroe Rotary Club to benefit the Animal Control Shelter on Purdy Hill Road Thursday afternoon. She hopes to use it toward the continued modernization of the facility.

“What we most need in this facility is a washer and dryer, because keeping things clean in an animal control facility is a high priority,” Gambino said. “I hope we can find a place to do a hookup.”

Former first selectman, Ken Kellogg, who is now the Monroe Rotary Club president elect, attended Thursday’s check presentation ceremony with fellow club members.

“One of the things I was proud of while I was still in office is I got the half-a-million dollar grant towards the renovation,” Kellogg said. “That goes toward the facility, but there’s other stuff that you need. It’s the care and comfort of the animals, whether it’s food, veterinary care, blankets or whatever you need — we wanted to help out in that regard.”

“We are donating $1,000 for the betterment of our critters,” Cindy Richter, the Rotary’s current president, said while presenting the check.

The money was raised during a comedy night, Dave Kane’s Jokes My Irish Father Told Me, at the Redford House on the Monroe Congregational Church’s campus on March 23.

Assistant Animal Control Officer Alexandra Castro also attended the ceremony, along with Rotary Club members Joseph Kobza (the superintendent of schools), Phil Lindstrom and Walt Pirog, who is a new member.

The town recently received a $500,000 Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant from the state of Connecticut to fund a renovation and expansion of the existing facility, which was built in 1992, to improve animal care and sheltering conditions, provide improved customer service, and bring the shelter up to Connecticut Department of Agriculture standards.

The upgrades will include new doors and windows, a roof replacement, HVAC replacement, plumbing alterations and electrical and security upgrades. A small, 250 square foot addition to the structure will be included.

Monroe’s facility will have a locker room and shower, which Gambino said will come in handy when they get “skunked” while responding to a call.

The construction project did not start yet.

Meet Hazel and Mort

On Thursday Gambino and Castro gave Rotary Club members a tour of the existing facility.

Two dogs were living there. Mort, who cannot be adopted because he bites, has been a resident at the shelter for 10 years. The black dog wagged his tail in excitement as the visitors came through. Gambino said Mort is more mellow in his old age.

Further down, Hazel, a white Anatolian Shepherd is a large dog that was abandoned. Gambino said these dogs are often bred to protect livestock, adding the dogs are capable of taking out an entire wolf pack.

“She isn’t an aggressive dog,” Gambino said of Hazel. “She’s a sweet dog.”

Hazel is going to a new home in Plymouth.

Hazel was recently adopted by an electrician from Plymouth, who planned to pick her up Saturday.

Someone had abandoned the 120-pound dog, dropping her off on Hiram Hill Road. Police captured Hazel and brought her to the shelter.

Gambino said people often drop dogs off on Hiram Hill Road, because a long stretch of the street has no houses. Other common spots are Garder Road and the Victorinox property, which has become less of a problem since Amazon started parking its trucks there, according to Gambino.

“Can people come here and say, ‘I can’t care for my dog anymore,’ to alleviate drop-offs,” Richter asked.

Gambino said the shelter will accept animal surrenders on a case-by-case basis. But if officers determine the pet owner did not do enough to try to find a new home for their dog first, the animal will not be accepted.

The longer an abandoned pet roams free, the more dangerous it can be for the domesticated animal, due to wild animals and traffic, according to Gambino. If someone sees a stray, she encourages them to call Monroe Animal Control as soon as possible at 203-452-3760.

The shelter is open from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. After hours, call the Monroe Police Department at 203-261-3622.

Hazel eats three times as much as the average dog the shelter brings in, so Gambino said animal control appreciates the donations it receives, which often includes dog food.

If the budget passes during the referendum on May 7, it will include more funds for Monroe Animal Control. For example, its budget includes $1,700 for veterinary care and Gambino asked for $2,000 next year.

She said this is vital due to chapter 435 of the Connecticut General Statutes, which says animal control officers’ main responsibilities are to enforce laws pertaining to domestic animals.

Most ACOs also take on the task of dealing with sick or injured wildlife, especially if the risk of rabies exposure to humans or pets is involved, according to Gambino.

Improvements for Monroe’s facility will include a quarantine area for animals involved in biting incidents and suspected rabies cases. A quiet isolated space could be used for dogs with a litter of puppies, Gambino said.

The Monroe Animal Shelter impounds about 80 animals a year. Whenever a local animal shelter has a case where it has to take in a lot of animals at once, such as in a hoarding situation, Gambino said animal control agencies from other towns often offer each other mutual aid to house them all.

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