Gavin is a six-month old Husky Shepard that is one of the 2,894 dogs that has been brought into the Jackson County Animal Care and Control Shelter in the last year. He nervously paces back and fourth and occasionally barks showing the strain of being uncomfortable in his new environment.

"Of course kennels can stress out a perfectly good animal, it would stress me out," said Collen Mattock, director of the Jackson County Animal Care and Control Center. "But those at the shelter try to give them as much constant interaction as possible as well as training to make them a better pet."

But Gavin isn't the only one that needs to find a new home at the shelter. The shelter is the only one in Southern Oregon that accepts both stray and abandoned cats and dogs. In 2006, 3,873 cats and 2,934 dogs were brought to the shelter.

The Jackson County Animal Care and Control Center's policy of taking in any and every animal has left it with a variety of animals, including two alligators. The shelter is capable of taking in birds, ferrets, rats, mice, guinea pigs, snakes, iguanas, cats and dogs. Livestock are the only animals the shelter cannot make room for.

Gavin's hope for adoption would dramatically increase if the community would do their part to help the animals. The spaying and neutering of pets is essential in helping reduce the amount of animals being brought in without a home.

"It has to start with the community," said Colleen Mattock. "We need to be responsible for our pets and to teach others how to be responsible. People need to make sure their pets have been spayed and neutered to help reduce the amount of strain on the animal population. If people would be responsible and help just a little, the shelter wouldn't have to do half the work we do."

The average cost to spay or neuter can range from $50 to $180. The shelter does not offer veterinarian care onsite, however staff will recommend local vets and offer a $20 off voucher to spay or neuter pets.

"We would prefer if people would try and place the animals themselves before bringing them to us, because there is only so much we can do to find a suitable home" said Olivia Doty, a staff memeber at the shelter.

The shelter's tasks are more than just providing a shelter and care for lost, stray, abandoned and unwanted pets. Shelter staff and volunteers help residents resolve neighborhood problems involving pet ownership, pet adoptions, animal bite investigations, cruelty and neglect investigations, uniting lost pets with owners, responding to public safety emergencies, enforcing dog control and licensing regulations, investigation of barking and nuisance dog complaints, roadside casualties, sick or injured animal rescue and assisting other law enforcement agencies with animal related problems.

The shelter needs help in finding foster homes for animals like Gavin. Certain animals need more attention or to be in a home environment rather than a kennel or cage. This is where groups like the Friends of the Animal Shelter (FOTAS) help the shelter. Once the animals are at the shelter, FOTAS help with hands on care, fund raising, and adoption counceling to help pets like Gavin find the new home they need.

To become a volunteer with FOTAS, applicants must be 18 or older to volunteer alone, as well as attend an orientation at the shelter, and to be able to volunteer a minimum of four hours a month. Friends of the Animal Shelter can be reached at 541-774-6646 or online at

The shelter is open Monday through Friday: 11 am to 4 pm and is now open on Saturdays for adoptions. The Jackson County Animal Shelter can be contacted at 541-774-6654.

For animal related public safety emergencies, or if an animal needs immediate attention, call 541-774-6655. If you have wildlife problems call Oregon Wildlife at 541-826-8774. If you need veterinarian information, contact S.N.Y.P. at 541-858-3325.