Syracuse Dog Control has named Barks and Rec its new city dog shelter after the Dewitt Animal Hospital ended its contract with the city. Julie LaFave, the commissioner of Parks and Recreation, said that Barks and Rec owner Maria Casella is fully committed to being the city’s new shelter.
“We went in with the idea that we would have three vendors who, combined, could meet the needs,” LaFave said. “She [Casella] is very passionate about this and we can see that. She realized that she wanted to take this on completely. It was after we entered into agreement with her that she then announced the second location.”
Barks and Rec currently has four kennels while the new location will have between 40 and 50. Stefanie Heath, the co-founder and president of volunteer group ‘Cuse Pitt Crew, said that the additional space at the new facility will be used for more than just kennels.
“There’s going to be a new training space there where we can take the dogs in to do training and socialization,” Heath said. “There will be a nice big fenced-in yard. There was no fenced-in yard at the other place, so that is going to be a huge upgrade.”
Although the size of the shelter is increasing, that doesn’t mean the city has been picking up more lost or stray dogs. LaFave said that in recent years, the city has gone from getting about 900 dogs annually to 600. She believes this is partly due to the launch of DocuPet last year. The software allows dog owners to register their pups online and upload a picture. They receive a special tag saying that their dog is licensed and registered with DocuPet. LaFave said this allows for more immediate contact should a dog go missing.
“If somebody down the street finds your dog and they see this tag, it says ‘If this dog is lost, go on this website,’” LaFave said. “The website will actually send an email to the owner saying someone found their dog. We are trying to maximize this [software] to our benefit of processing dogs and getting them home quicker.”
Until the dogs are adopted or reunited with their owners, they will be lovingly taken care of at Barks and Rec.