Meet the Woman Behind the Fairfield County Dog Adoption Center
LANCASTER — There’s no doubt Fairfield County Adoption Center and Dog Shelter Manager Erin Frost loves her job.
“It’s pretty awesome that I can pay the bills doing something I love doing,” she said.
Frost has been at the shelter for just over a year. Prior to that, she worked at the Franklin County Dog Shelter for 19 years.
“My job is anything that basically involves dogs and their care while they’re here with us,” Frost said. “I oversee the kennel staff, in particular. I am also responsible for evaluating the dogs while they are here with us for temperament, behavior and suitability for adoption based on what we see during that they are with us.”
She said one of the biggest challenges of working at the shelter is dealing with the dogs’ fear and anxiety of being in a strange place. The shelter can hold a maximum of 52 dogs, and in some ways it’s like a jail or jail for them.
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“In a way,” Frost said. “Obviously we do everything we can to make it comfortable. But it’s not our home and they’ve been in kennels a lot longer than we’d like. So we’re all committed to taking them out several times a day.
“Trying to provide them with dog-dog interactions when appropriate, giving them basic obedience, giving them different enrichment toys as stimulation. All sorts of things to try to engage them so they don’t get bored not and that they don’t just sit and stare into the same four walls and only listen to scary and weird things.”
While the capacity is 52 dogs, Frost said the shelter is trying to keep the number much lower to benefit the physical and emotional health of the dogs.
She said the dogs at the shelter are mostly strays.
“They escaped or were let go,” Frost said. “Our primary function is public safety. We don’t want dogs running loose. So our deputy wardens go out and find them running loose or a private citizen might find a dog in their yard or wandering around the street and bring them to us for safekeeping.”
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She said staff look for the dog’s owner when a dog comes in and bring him home.
“Because it’s the best thing for everyone,” Frost said. “So if there are tags, if there’s a microchip, something like that, we do everything we can to try to track them. We also post them on social media to bring them together when that is possible.”
But this is not always possible. Therefore, unclaimed strays are assessed to see if they can be adopted. The shelter also receives dogs from the owner of the dog who may no longer want them. Frost said there are several reasons why someone might voluntarily give up their dog.
“Whether it was the behavior or they found the wrong match,” she said. “The dog is too energetic for them, too rambunctious. Kids and dogs, that can be a problem. Travelling, changing jobs, downsizing, moving. So there’s a whole range of reasons. And we’re trying to working with people to give them alternative options because if we can keep them out of the shelter, it’s better for the dog.”
These options include, among other things, owner training advice.
But for those who choose to give up their dog, Frost said it can be a devastating experience with lots of tears.
“So if there’s a way to prevent that, we’re going to work with those people at all levels,” she said.
On the other hand, Frost sees the joy when someone adopts a dog.
“It’s absolutely fun,” she said. “We see a lot of individuals and families coming here and meeting the dog. It’s fun to go through that process. Sometimes it’s just an instant connection. Other times there will be back and forth where they go home and think about it and come back, ‘OK, I can’t forget the dog. I have to adopt this dog.’ It’s fun to see that when they really make that connection.”
Frost said adoption is just the first step. The next step is to bring the dog home and acclimate it to its new life. Frost said that to be successful in adoption, the owner needs to be realistic and know what they want from the dog.
“What are the family dynamics and what type of dog, what personality, what energy level will work best in your home? ” she said.
Frost said a successful owner will set ground rules for dog behavior so he knows what is expected of him.
“We give them a lot,” she said. “And we’re surprised when they have an accident or chew something. What time are you going to feed? How are you going to feed? All of these things are big decisions and it’s best if you have an idea of what’s going on. is going to work with your lifestyle before bringing them home.”
In addition to working with dogs all day, Frost has five adopted dogs at home.
“They are my children now,” she said.
Those considering adopting a dog can view the shelter’s available dogs at www.fairfieldcountydogs.com or on the shelter’s Facebook page.