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Union County Dog Warden: Rescuing, Fostering Dogs ‘Feeds My Soul’
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It might seem that Mary Beth Hall has a thankless job. As Union County’s dog warden, Hall is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But for Hall it’s been the most rewarding job of her life.
Mary Beth Hall does have an office just outside Marysville. But most days she’s in a county animal control truck, out on patrol, responding to complaints or rescuing lost pets. She visits nursing homes and hospitals with therapy dogs. She presents programs about dog safety at schools and churches.
Recently Hall spoke to a group of young people at the Methodist church in Magnetic Springs. With her, a 4-year-old hunting dog named Blaze.
Dog warden was not Hall’s chosen career. She graduated from OSU with a degree in animal science and agriculture; then took a position with Purina as an animal nutrition specialist. But the economy took a dive and Hall found herself out of a job.
“There I was at a time when the economy was really suffering and I saw a newspaper ad for a dog warden job and I applied. And that was that,” Hall says.
Her official duties include investigating dog bites and livestock attacks. But the job feeds her love for animals. Over the past 17 years Hall has fostered – voluntarily – almost 300 dogs.
“As far as affection goes, I’m fond of all of them. It’s rare that I don’t get attached to them in some way or another. There’s been two or three that I cried over when they left but most of the time I’m happy when they get their home because I can only provide a loving home for so many animals,” Hall says.
There are foster dog success stories. Hall says one of them, a Weimaraner, became a beloved therapy dog at the Cleveland Clinic.
Hall also has horses and cats on 3 fenced-in acres in the country. She has a special fondness for coonhounds. Her first, who’s since passed away, was a Black-And-Tan breed.
“He was a really neat dog and every night he would run circles around my property and he would sing. And there was no hound song at my place anymore and I really missed that hound dog,” Hall says.
Then she found Blaze.
“He’s actually my first canine foster failure. I think that I was keeping Blaze from the moment that I caught him. He was running loose; he was very, very skinny. It was in February and it was literally maybe two degrees out. And he was just a tiny puppy, maybe four months old. And I scooped him up and he instantly laid his head on my shoulder. So I fell in love with him pretty much instantly,” Hall says.
She kept him in the local animal shelter for 30 days, but the owner never claimed him.
“He’s really mischievous. He likes to play and he was sitting in the kennel just waiting and bored and so they finally said, ‘Would you please take that hound dog home?’”
Now almost four years later, Blaze, a Treeing Walker, is a happy, mostly obedient, 75-pound bundle of energy. When Hall throws him his favorite toy Blaze will burst into song.
Hall and Blaze often work together. Blaze will bow on command; body language that helps Hall catch a shy or skittish dog.
The two often run together in various fundraising events that benefit Central Ohio humane societies.
Hall’s love for coonhounds led her to help found Coonhound Companions with other hound lovers from across the country. Hall says she hopes the group encourages more coonhound adoptions.
“There’s this beautiful dog, he’s really pretty. He’s got long ears and soulful eyes. He’s a clown, he’s a lot of fun, very easy-going, good around children, there’s so many traits about coonhounds that make them adoptable and make them great family companions,” Hall says.
Mary Beth Hall has no plans to return to the corporate world. Fostering and rescuing dogs “feeds my soul” she says. “It amplifies,” she says, “the joy and passion for my work.”