It was not the first time dogs had been stolen from the humane society but efforts since an early January theft may have guaranteed it will be the last.
Dan Turcea said after the last theft he could not recall exactly how many times dogs had been stolen in the 14 years he has been director of Boyle County Animal Control, but that it had been at least twice recently.
He also said at that time that the offices he shares with Danville/Boyle County Humane Society had been broken into at least three times with money and “vet items” stolen before an investment in a security system solved that problem.
By the end of the weekend, animal control officer John Hambel will have finished his work to install a state-of-the-art security system he designed to protect the shelters — and the furry guests who call the shelter home.
Turcea said Hambel is the resident technophile and so took it upon himself to come up with a plan to address the issue that last time resulted in one puppy being left for dead in a dumpster.
“John took on the job to increase security,” Turcea said.
“He went before the board — the county and the Humane Society board — and they gave him the green light.”
Hambel’s “Recommendation to Make Our Shelter More Secure” included:
- Create a standard operating procedure for opening and closing the shelter, which includes entering and exiting the building after hours.
- Repair gates and fencing to ensure they are impenetrable when closed and locked. Keep side and back doors closed and locked.
- Remove the high growth of shrubs and weeds and trim foliage that blocks visibility around the building/property exterior.
- Review the controls and operations of our exterior lights. Document the specifications, and create a routine maintenance program. Add motion activated lighting.
- Maintain a master list of key assignments and make sure staff acknowledge receipt of keys.
- Contact the local police department and request that a patrol unit regularly pass by the shelter, keeping a close eye out for suspicious activity or trespassers.
- Post prominent signs indicating that the shelter has video surveillance and is monitored and secured 24/7.
While all the other protocols now in place according to Hambel’s plan might be things the military calls good “op-sec” (for “operational security”), the last item on the list is certain to be effective.
Signs around the property now advise visitors to smile for the cameras, and cameras are everywhere.
A few of the newly installed cameras are wireless and already operating. Some that will be in place by the end of the weekend also are motion-sensitive and designed to follow movements. The cameras send live feeds not only to a monitor in Hambel’s office but also can be accessed by Hambel and the staff from any computer anywhere, in real time.
Images are recorded, as well.
“It’s going to be something, all right,” Hambel said. “One of our volunteers is an electrician, so the installation was donated.”
Hambel was given the green light to develop a plan and then implement it within a fairly small budget and was able to pull it off because of his technical expertise and falling prices for just the items he needed.
“And eBay,” he said.
Price charged to the DBCHS and Boyle Animal Control for expert design and installation of the new security measures: $0
Budget approved for Hambel to secure the animal areas of the shelter: $500.
Keeping the animals secure from thieves: Priceless.