County shelter has adopted out 1,200 animals in 5 years

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 August 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – About 20 volunteers are regulars at the Orleans County Animal Shelter, feeding animals, taking dogs for walks, socializing cats and performing other duties. Three of the volunteers include, from left: Gina Smith of Hilton, and Joette and Bill McHugh of Albion. They are pictured with Zurie, a Shar-Pei/Lab mix.

ALBION – Joette McHugh stops by each pen in the Orleans County Animal Shelter, and she leans over and calls each and every dog by name.

Many of them lick her fingers. They wag their tails in delight. When she visits the cats in a separate room, they also are greeted by their names, such as “Jennipurr.”

McHugh is lead volunteer at the animal shelter. She and her husband Bill are among a dedicated corps of 20 volunteers who help to feed the animals, walk dogs, play with cats and clean cages.

“These animals need us,” she said while giving a tour of the shelter on Thursday evening. “They’re safe here. They’re given food and love. That’s all any animal ever asks for is love and we give it to them.”

In the past five years, the volunteers and county have adopted out 1,200 animals from the shelter, including dogs, cats and rabbits. On Saturday, the shelter will celebrate the fifth anniversary of the adoption program.

There will be an open house and yard sale as part of the celebration from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the corner of routes 98 and 31A in Barre. The site used to be Starrview Kennels until the county bought it and made it the county animal shelter in May 2006.

Right now there are six dogs and 14 cats at the shelter, “but tomorrow it could totally change” with an influx of strays, Mrs. McHugh said.

Volunteers staff the shelter for the public to see the animals from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays through Thursdays, and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

The animals up for adoption are also posted on two web sites: and

McHugh praised the county government and community for establishing the improved shelter and for monetary support and pet supplies.