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Ransom is a dog â€“ a big, white dog.
At first glance, the 5-year-old lab mix is just another mutt â€” another one of the many homeless animals at the Catawba County Humane Society.
But watch him for a minute, and his true personality may surface.
On Wednesday, Ransom sprawled, spun, splashed and scurried around the humane societyâ€™s new exercise facility that was installed last month. He jumped in and out of the facilityâ€™s pool, pawing the shallow water and splattering H2O all over Cassandra Haecherl, the humane societyâ€™s community outreach leader.
â€śThe only time Iâ€™ve ever seen him tired is after I took him hiking all day in Boone,â€ť Haecherl said. â€śHe just doesnâ€™t really stop.â€ť
But Ransom loved a good head scratch more than anything else and cozied up next to humane society development director Jane Bowers for a much-appreciated tummy rub. Ransom slobbered and snorted in Bowers direction in thanks for the quick scratch.
Seeing a dog with as much personality as Ransom, itâ€™s hard to believe that he has resided at the humane society for more than two years.
â€śWe donâ€™t know why he hasnâ€™t been adopted,â€ť Bowers said.
â€śUnfortunately, we always get a dog that has been here a while.â€ť
Bowers thinks new developments like the exercise facility will not only make the animals happier at the humane society, but will increase adoptions as well. The exercise facility was installed by Corning Cable Systems, a technology manufacturer that realized the humane society needed an upgraded space for animals to play.
â€śIt looked a bit sad before,â€ť Bowers said, adding that the previous exercise facility was primarily dirt that got muddy when it rained.
Now, Corning installed a new facility that is â€śfar beyondâ€ť what the humane society expected, Bowers said.
The new facility is covered with an artificial grass surface that keeps dogs cleaner and the â€śnastinessâ€ť away. A roof was also installed at the facility so that animals, workers and volunteers can work under extreme weather conditions. The exercise facility also promotes activity by offering two pools, two jumping fences and an array of toys and balls.
â€śWe have definitely seen a difference in the attitude of the animals,â€ť Bowers said. â€śItâ€™s very important our animals donâ€™t sit around all day.
Itâ€™s very easy for a dog to get a urinary tract infection from sitting around.â€ť
Having a place to play also allows the animals to release built-up energy, thus making the dogs more social.
â€śThey need stimulating,â€ť Bowers said. â€śIt helps them get rid of some of their energy. It makes them more social, and it makes adoption easier.â€ť
Haecherl said she has seen a positive change in Ransomâ€™s personality since the new exercise facility opened.
â€śHeâ€™s definitely started to mellow out,â€ť Haecherl said. â€śHe used to be more dominant, but heâ€™s starting to get along better with the other dogs.â€ť
Some dogs enjoy the facility as a group while others are brought to play by themselves. Bowers said it just varies on the dogâ€™s personality.
Last year, the humane society had about 700 animals adopted from its center. Bowers said they are â€śon parâ€ť to meet last yearâ€™s adoption rate, but want to get to 1,000 adoptions by the end of the year.
â€śRescue a homeless animal,â€ť Bowers said. â€śUnfortunately, this county has a lot of homeless animals. These guys have a good health record.
People should come here first if they are looking for a pet.â€ť
Furry Faces for funds
In an effort to raise money, the humane society is starting its first Furry Faces Photo Contest this year. The contest asks local citizens to submit photos of their favorite pets for a fee of $5. After photos are submitted, citizens vote on which pet they like most for $1.
At the end of the competition, the top 13 pets will be selected and featured in a calendar distributed by the humane society.
â€śWeâ€™ve got more than 140 pictures on the website already,â€ť Bowers said. â€śItâ€™s generating some money for us and giving people some joy as well.â€ť
For more information on the Furry Faces contest or the humane society, visit catawbacountyhumane.org.