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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

OCHS urges proper pet care

OCHS | Courtesy Photographs

The Oktibbeha County Humane Society (OCHS), located in Starkville, urges pet owners to get their pets vaccinated regularly. The OCHS will host their Halloween Pet Parade and Costume Contest Saturday from 1-3 p.m. at McKee Park.

The Oktibbeha County Humane Society (OCHS) has sheltered over 2,000 animals this year and advocates proper pet care. 

OCHS strives to promote the wellbeing of domestic animals as well as share information with the community the responsibility of caring for animals.

In 2012, the Humane Society of the United States reported that 56 percent of households in the United States have at least one pet.

Pet owners in Starkville are required to license all dogs kept in city limits yearly through the OCHS. 

Rick Welch, vice president of OCHS, said licensing is beneficial to community members as well as pets. 

 “If they get lost, they’ll have a tag that will help us find the owner,” Welch said. “Secondly, the funds are used to help the Humane Society, and also, licensing verifies if the dog has had shots and helps keep dogs healthy in the community.”

Animals are often brought to the Humane Society without identification. OCHS ensures that every animal is adopted and has a microchip implanted to help identify them in circumstances where their collar is missing. The organization also posts “paw alerts” (photos) to their Facebook account to help reunite missing animals with their families. 

In the South, dogs are highly susceptible to developing heartworms. Unlike intestinal worms, they are not easily cured. If  the worms  are not caught in time, they can be potentially fatal. 

Heartworms are transmitted to a dog through mosquitoes. Jeff Smith, doctor of Smith Animal Hospital, said heartworm prevention is vital even if the dog is kept indoors. He also said pet owners should not wait until clinical signs of heartworms are shown because at that point, it is usually too late.

“We check once a year when they come in for an annual checkup,” Smith said. “It can take several years from the time heartworms develop to the time they (dogs) get sick. If you (pet owners) catch it early, we can treat it.”

Macki Smith, clinic administrator at Smith Animal Hospital, said first time pet owners should be well aware of the love, care and education needed to properly care for animals before deciding to take on the responsibility of pet ownership.

“They are just like our children,” Macki said. “It’s important to get them regularly vaccinated—a flea and tick preventative— and if you don’t get anything else for your pet here in the South, get them on a heartworm preventative.”

OCHS offers a Second Chance Fund, which helps fund proper healthcare to animals who enter the shelter with heartworms, mange or other severe health issues. 

Welch, who has spent eight-and-a-half years in rescuing, said she has fostered 22 animals over the years. 

“When you adopt a pet, you commit to take care of them for the rest of their life,” Welch said. 

The OCHS will host their Halloween Pet Parade and Costume Contest Saturday at the McKee Park Pavilion in Starkville. Donations will be accepted and all proceeds will go towards funding OCHS. For more information about OCHS or adopting an animal, visit

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OCHS urges proper pet care