The animal shelter in Jackson County, Ore., was handling up to 250 dogs a month in 1961 and running out of space. The proposed budget contained $7,000 for building a new cement-block, heated structure to house dogs that were being kept only five days. Maxwell Thayer, owner and editor of the Rogue River Times had a better idea.
The Animal Shelter was located on land that had been used by the Experiment Station between Phoenix and Talent and was adjacent to the County Poor Farm and Juvenile Jail. Thayer’s suggestion was to use welfare and jail labor to drag the farm’s old pig barn to the Animal Shelter for use as a new dog compound. It was 12-by-24 feet and in good condition, he reported, and would cost the county nothing. Thayer also complained that the three Animal Shelter employees’ combined salaries exceeded $1,000 a month, which he calculated cost taxpayers $4 a dog, not counting food and transportation expenses. Fifty years later, eight employees, 250 volunteers and some county work release trustees handle more than 400 animals a month. Most dogs today are adopted, not euthanized, and taxpayers only pay 10 percent of the bill.