Humane Society shares future plans at Rotary

Published 9:07 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2015

At Tuesday’s Rotary meeting, the president and vice-president of the Bainbridge-Decatur County Humane Society presented future plans, current programs and ongoing struggles the organization is facing.

BDCHS president Susan Ralph explained the Humane Society’s foster program.

“You might ask yourself, ‘Why foster?’ Besides being a good way to determine if you want an animal in your life, there’s no more room at the shelter, especially at puppy and kitten season,” Ralph said. “Another reason is you could well save a life.”

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“You might get a new best friend. Research shows that having a pet can lower your blood pressure, they can detect cancer, keep you active, can tell when you have low blood sugar, help you during seizures and can help you rehabilitate from illness,” Ralph said.

According to her figures, during the past fiscal year, intake was 1,970 animals, of which 46 percent, or 822, were saved through adoption, the foster program, reclaimed by owners or transported to other rescue groups.

A potential foster pet parent fills out a form, which is followed up by a home visit. He or she must have all of their current pets spayed or neutered and up-to-date on vaccines before they can foster a pet.

The Humane Society supplies any needed medications to foster the animal, but the foster pet parent takes care of any medical needs while the animal is in his or her care. He or she keeps the animal until it is adopted or is considered a “foster failure,” which happens when the foster parent falls in love and decides to adopt the pet.

The Humane Society currently houses more than 150 animals in three metal buildings across from the Bill Reynolds Sports Complex, said BDCHS vice-president Dennie Nichols.

“Every time you foster a dog, you’re saving two dogs, because you’re saving the one you’re fostering and the one getting the empty cage,” Nichols said. “It’s just a reality of life of what we have to deal with. For every one that goes out, we have 10 more that come in.”

The Humane Society is currently working to raise about $600,000 for a new, 12,000 square-foot facility to get everything under one roof and give the animals more space. It has already raised about $50,000 of the $650,000 building fund for the new facility.

Ralph said that the current facility has a lot of issues and upkeep and utility costs are expensive. She said that last fiscal year utility costs were more than $21,000, a lot of which comes from heating and cooling costs.

“Built in 2004, the metal building is rusting and has a mold and mildew problem, which animals and employees breathe in daily through the inadequate ventilation system,” Ralph said. “Drainage is insufficient and backs up on a regular basis. Soil is eroding from under the building, which could cause it to slip off of the foundation. Heating and air-conditioning equipment is old, rusted and unreliable.”

The organization dreams of working with local schools and having a safer place for kids to come spend time with the animals and learn about responsible pet ownership. It also wants to work with Bainbridge State College for programs.

“Maybe one day we’ll get there,” Nichols said. The county and the city do the best they can do, but it’s going to take the community coming together and helping us out.”

The organization is always accepting donations. It needs old blankets or towels, bleach, dog and cat food and office supplies. It has an Amazon wish list of items in need that can be found at