Zsofia Shomody and Lena Sherwood

Zsofia Shomody and Lena Sherwood present leashes to Officer Brendan Bosquet of the Winchester Police Department.

Recently, a law enforcement official from a local police department pulled up to the rear door of Monadnock Humane Society (MHS) where police bring in stray animals, requesting a leash to help him bring in a stray dog he had in his cruiser. A volunteer (and also a board member) happened to be there at the time and found a leash for him.  

When the officer returned to leash the dog, they discovered that he had broken free and was taking off for the woods. The volunteer, who is familiar with handling dogs, knew instinctively to grab some tasty treats for the officer who coaxed him back and then leashed him. Crisis averted!

But the incident got her thinking… since it is the job of local law enforcement officials to bring stray dogs to MHS, perhaps it would be helpful for them to always have leashes in their cruisers, and MHS could help with that. She spoke briefly with the officer about whether or not other cruisers in his department were equipped with leashes, and he was certain that most did not.  

She was excited and determined — this would be a way to help not only the officers who are out in the community collecting stray animals, but it would be a way to ensure the safety of people as well.

When she spoke with the director of shelter operations, Emily Kerylow, they came to the conclusion that slip lead leashes would work the best for this purpose since most stray dogs don’t have collars, and MHS didn’t have many of those in supply. Slip leads loop over the dog’s neck and make it easy and effective to secure the dog quickly and get him to safety.  

The volunteer reached out to One Stop Country Pet Supply to ask if they would be willing to help out. Saskia Whallon, owner of One-Stop, was delighted to donate leashes.

Bill Rohdenburg, manager of One Stop’s Keene store said, “We’re glad to be helping the community in this way and we’re so glad MHS asked. Everyone on the One Stop Country Pet Supply team is a pet owner, and we understand that pets are family. 

“When a pet goes missing, we relate to the feelings of anguish and distress, so if there’s anything we can do to help reunite a pet with his/her owner or help an abandoned pet find a new loving home, we’re totally on-board.”

The volunteer then began calling other police departments in the Monadnock Region to research their need. Out of a dozen, only one was equipped with leashes. The others were very enthusiastic about having this simple yet effective piece of pet equipment for their cruisers.  

She decided that the program needed a moniker as she envisioned it as an ongoing service to the community. Leashes will need to be stocked and delivered as needed. She decided to call it “Leashes4Cruisers.”  

Kerylow was also thankful for the help and recognized the dedication of local police departments, saying, “We’re so pleased that the officers of our community understand the importance of securing lost, scared or abandoned animals and getting them to MHS to be cared for. Not only is this important for the animal’s safety but also the people of the community.  We’re happy to supply this simple, yet important, piece of equipment to facilitate this process.”

Winchester Police Chief Mike Tolett said, “Our partnership with MHS is so vital. The work they do for the animals in our area is tremendous and it’s wonderful that they pulled this program together. It says so much about their organization to think of our local police agencies. We so appreciate their efforts on our behalf and to take care of the animals in our community.”

Swanzey Police Chief Tom DeAngelis was also grateful for the support.  

“We really appreciate getting these leashes for our cruisers,” he said. “We don’t have an ACO [animal control officer] so our patrol officers handle all the dog calls. There have been many times we did not have leashes to use when responding — this is so helpful. We really appreciate all of the assistance we get from MHS and the community.”

The Leashes4Cruisers program is needed more than ever. Previously, MHS had an animal control officer on staff who would respond to and handle community reports of stray animals, cruelty and hoarding situations. That person would also assist the law enforcement officers in the 44 communities we serve.

That position was eliminated four years ago due to budget cuts, yet MHS has highly skilled staff who continue to assist law enforcement for various animal welfare issues and are the holding facility for all strays.

Kathy Collinsworth, MHS executive director, commented, “While managing animal populations, as a public safety issue is the legal responsibility of the police departments and is part of each town’s budget, many times there are challenging situations which the [law enforcement] official is not trained to manage. MHS helps out as much as possible, however it is our future goal to reinstate an ACO to our team to better serve our communities.”

The Leashes4Cruisers program will continue to build and expand out to the rest of the communities in the Monadnock Region over the next few months. MHS has committed to making it an ongoing initiative that could potentially become a pilot program for other shelters, another example of how our community is working together to strengthen the animal-human bond by promoting and providing for the well-being of animals.

Carol Laughner is Marketing Communications Manager for Monadnock Humane Society, celebrating its 145th anniversary this year, a private, nonprofit organization that serves the Monadnock Region, which includes 44 communities. MHS cares for an average of 1,400 animals each year with a staff of 28 and the help of more than 250 active volunteers. Its mission is to strengthen the animal-human bond by promoting and providing for the well-being of animals. MHS receives no state or federal funding and is not affiliated with any other agency or organization. It is supported solely by the generosity of those in our community. For more information, visit monadnockhumanesociety.org and for the latest news, follow MHS on Facebook.