Helping the Humane Society cope

Published 6:19 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dennie Nichols holds a tiny kitten that has been rescued and needs individual care.

Dennie Nichols holds a tiny kitten that has been rescued and needs individual care.

Ventilation problems, flooding, mold and overcrowding aren’t conditions anyone wants to work in, yet, in spite of all its shortcomings, the local animal shelter continues to provide loving care while making the most of its resources.

The area’s local Humane Society shelter is staffed by two full-time employees, the director and one kennel worker, and six part-time employees who alternate seven days a week, including holidays, to feed and care for the animals.

The facility is overseen by a board of 14 members and many services are supplied by a host of volunteers and persons devoted to providing help to those who cannot help themselves.

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Volunteers cover a variety of needs, including donating food, cleaning supplies, money for veterinary care, and spending time walking dogs so they can have some loving attention and exercise out of the crates a few minutes a day.

Another very important area where volunteers can serve is in the Foster Parent program. While the shelter has long known and utilized a few individuals who would take animals on an emergency basis, a new program is being started under the leadership of Dennie Nichols. As Foster Parent Coordinator, her goal is to locate and educate animal lovers who will take those who do not fare well in a shelter environment. These include those left behind by elderly owners, those who are nursing litters of puppies and others who are fragile from illness or injuries.

This is not something to be undertaken on a whim, however, as Nichols gives some pointers to prospective fosters:

• Learn as much as you can about pet care before bringing the animal into your home. This includes information on feeding, grooming and training, as well as signs the animal may need to see the Vet. Learn what vaccinations are required and how to keep up to date on them.

•  Find out the costs involved. What are the shelter’s guidelines and ability to be able to help with any food, supplies and or veterinary care.

• Make the home pet-friendly. Just as you would prepare for a small child, remove poisonous plants and other potential threats to life and furnishings.

• Consider the health and welfare of other pets in your household.

• Recognize your limits. Fostering takes a great deal of time and energy, both emotional and physical.

• Understand some animals will not survive, no matter your best efforts.

• Enjoy the experience and give lots of love and affection to the animal.

Those who believe they can be of service in this very necessary endeavor are encouraged to contact Nichols through the shelter.

The shelter advocates for pet adoptions, maintaining a website with available animals, showing them on Facebook, and publishing a selection weekly in the local newspaper.

Figures released show that the local shelter saved 823 lives (46 percent) of 1,790 that entered the shelter FY15 through adoptions, reclaims and transfers to rescue groups.

There are weekly flights of animals to rescue shelters. Many of these animals end up in homes in northern states where there is a demand for adoptable animals due to local strict spay and neuter laws.

Private donations routinely make up for food shortages. All it usually takes is for a plea to go out on Facebook, and someone delivers an order of dog or cat food within hours. This is true of equipment, such as washers/dryers, etc.

A goal of the board is to provide more public education, especially discouraging back yard breeders and teaching the necessity of spaying and neutering to control a burgeoning pet population.

An individual who adopts from the shelter enters into a binding, legal written contract with the Bainbridge County Humane Society to have that pet sterilized.

Adoption fees include spay and neuter fees, so the society doesn’t make any money on that once they pay the veterinarian.

Board members indicate they would like to bring groups of school children, scout troops, and others to the shelter to help educate them on how to properly care for animals, but the conditions of the present shelter are not amenable to that.

The local shelter relies heavily on fundraisers. In addition to the Run to Rescue on Oct. 3, they have an adoption event planned for October 10 at Provence Farm on Woodhull Road.  A portion of The Belk Department Store charity event in November will be donated to the local Humane Society and plans are to hold a second of the successful Arts for Animals on January 30. There are also special Bingo nights and other events that benefit the shelter. But, once again, these funds are usually eaten up meeting current expenses and making expensive repairs to equipment.

The local shelter is not affiliated with the National Humane Society, nor with PETA. It is an entirely local association, The board members are: Lisa Ariail, Marjean Boyd, Tamara Buckhaulter, Deborah Cothren, Randee Eubanks, Ami Godby, Jenny Herring, Pam Immendorf, Joseph Kelly, Richard King, Sloane Kirbo, Dennie Nichols, Susan Ralph and Cecilia Willis. Current president is Susan Ralph.

These dedicated volunteers are determined to see the day a new, modern shelter is built. In the meantime, they get by the best way they can.