Butte County employees, local businesses donate to help sheltered animals

Two employees of Butte County undertook a rehab project to make the county’s temporary animal shelter a little more comfortable for stray and displaced animals. Pioneer photo by Lacey Peterson

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BELLE FOURCHE — Two Butte County employees donated personal time and a handful of local businesses offered supplies to make the kennel conditions more comfortable for stray and displaced animals.

Four kennels, located at the county highway department shop on Valley 1 Road just north of Belle Fourche, periodically serve as temporary shelter for animals found roaming the county. Two county employees – Chief Sheriff Deputy Jason March and Highway Foreman Tony Smith offered their personal time to fundraise and build or refurbish doghouses inside the kennels.

The shelter houses mostly dogs, although capable of accommodating other animals such as cats, and even the occasional goat and sheep found running at large on county lands until owners can be located.

Butte County Sheriff Fred Lamphere discussed the county employees’ charity during a recent county commission meeting.

“(The former shelter) didn’t really have an enclosure,” Lamphere said. “So, when we had really bad weather, we would … put them (animal) inside of a bigger crate and take them into the county shop.

Lamphere said he’d like to acknowledge appreciation to a few local businesses and community members who donated materials for the project. Newell Hardware donated plywood and screws; Dakota Lumber offered two gallons of paint; Jim Poitra, an employee of Dakota Lumber, donated shingles; Roundup Building Center provided caulking, a hose spray nozzle, and two paintbrushes; and John Nelson Roofing gifted shingles and nails.

Additionally, Lamphere said that Smith donated supplies, and his personal time to build the structures, and March also assisted with the project.

March told the Pioneer Monday that the kennels contained aging, dilapidated doghouses which were in need of updating.

Over the years, March said dogs and weather damaged the kennels. And when Smith said he was willing to provide the labor, March got on board to help the project.

“So, we were trying to scrounge materials and stuff to build some new doghouses,” he said.

March lent a helping hand, speaking to businesses about the project and seeking donated scrap supplies to build the shelter. He said he jumped at the opportunity to help give the animals a better short-term living environment and to save the county and taxpayers money.

“We take care of the animals, too,” March said, explaining that he and his sheriff department fellows care for the animals while they are housed at the temporary location. “Whoever’s on shift, you know, will go out in the morning and take care of it, or once in the evening until we find the owners.”  

March credited Smith for spearheading the project and donating his time to care for the animals and improve their temporary housing.

“Tony helps us out too, when he comes to work, he’ll take care of the dogs,” he said. “We don’t ever have to ask him. He just automatically takes care of the dogs; he cares for the animals.”

Smith took vacation time in August during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to upgrade the county’s animal kennels, building two new doghouses and rehabbing the third.

The project has been in the works for months, Smith said, between working to drum up donations and building the new structures. He helped March seek donated materials on his days off and donated a water hose to hydrate the animals and clean out the kennels, in addition to chain link fencing that he used to reinforce a section of one kennel’s fence that animals previously tried to escape through.

“I tell you what, we had some really good people (donate materials),” Smith said, estimating that more than $300 worth of new supplies were donated to the project.

Additionally, Smith donated four to five days to prepare and build the doghouses.

“I double painted everything and shingled everything …” he said, adding that he also donated floormats from one of his personal vehicles to the wooden doghouse floors to give the animals a more comfortable surface to lay on.

“There’s two there right now that have been there since Friday,” he said, referring to two dogs that, along with their human owner, were displaced after a fire ravaged their home Friday.

Smith said the dogs’ owner had no choice but to stay in a hotel that didn’t allow him to keep his canine companions, leaving him no choice but to find temporary lodging for his dogs.

“So, Jason’s letting him keep his two dogs out there as long as he comes and takes care of them,” he said.

Smith said he doesn’t mind pitching in to help deputies take care of animals housed in the shelter.

“They get busy,” he said. “And if I’m there in the yard, I’ll go up there and check on them.”

He and his wife, Bev Smith, are self-proclaimed animal lovers.

“We love dogs; we’ve had up to four dogs at one time,” Smith said, adding that the pair have a special place in their hearts for shelter animals. “Almost all of mine have been rescues. I’ve had rescues for a long time.”

And it doesn’t stop there. On top of caring for the animals at the county shop, Smith said he’s assisted in adopting out at least half a dozen dogs over the seven years he’s worked for the county.

“I just like animals,” he said. “And if I can help, I’m going to help. It only takes you two minutes to walk from your truck to go give them a biscuit and make sure they’ve got water. There’s times where I’ve (gone) in on the weekend.”

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