To accomplish our mission we had to do the following:
- stop the daily birth of unwanted puppies and kittens.
- prevent the dogs, puppies, cats and kittens living in our community from entering the shelter.
- get the dogs, puppies, cats and kittens currently in shelters or with rescue groups adopted into quality, loving homes as quickly as possible.
- educate our community on the plight of animals and the steps they could take to help.
- ensure local animal ordinances are in place and enforceable.
- create partnerships in the community to help animals.
Since 2005, the results of our work can be seen with 52% fewer animals entering the Henderson County Shelter and 78% more animals leaving the Shelter alive.
Our new mission is to partner with community and County organizations across North Carolina to establish programs to focus on eliminating the suffering and euthanasia of dogs and cats. Details of these programs are below:
Every program implemented is important, but spaying and neutering must be a priority.
A successful spay/neuter program must include all of the following:
- serve both domestic dogs and cats as well as unowned cats (strays or ferals).
- offer high quality surgeries and post-surgical care.
- be affordable and easy to use.
- be a long-term program and not stop-n-start due to lack of funding or lack of volunteers/staff to run it.
- be available to all families regardless of their income.
- be actively advertised and publicized throughout the community. The community should always know where to go and who to call to get their pets spayed or neutered.
Pet for Life Programs
The Pet for Life Program was created by the Humane Society of the United States and PetSmart Charities to help low-income families with pets. The focus of the program is to keep pets healthy and with their family by providing low-cost spay/neuter, vaccinations, etc.. The fact is when a pet of a low-income family becomes ill or injured, many families are unable to afford hundreds of dollars in veterinarian care. The family is left with few choices, but data shows that over 40% of the dogs and cats turned in to shelters are from low-income pet owners. Helping these families and their pet by offering subsidized pet food, veterinarian care, vaccinations, etc. saves lives. The information below details the services included in the Pets for Life Program.
Pet Food Pantry
Proving low-income families with free pet food to supplement what they can already purchase helps the family keep their pets. It is important to help these families maintain a manageable number of pets as well, so providing free or low-cost spay/neuter for their pets prevent unwanted litters. It does not make sense to feed pets that will breed and create more litters. Giving low-income families access to free pet food during a time they are between jobs, recovering from an illness, etc. helps both the family and their pets.
Emergency Veterinarian Care
Imagine living on $600 a month and your pet becomes ill or injured. The initial cost to see a veterinarian could range from $35-$100+. Depending on the illness or injury, the bill could easily skyrocket. Low-income families are faced with this problem as anyone would be; however, for them they have few places to find ‘extra money’. Sadly, when dealing with ill or injured pets, these families are faced with making decisions about their pet which could include relinquishing them to a shelter or having them euthanized. An Emergency Veterinarian Care program gives low-income families access to subsidized emergency veterinarian care for their pet.
Keeping pets healthy is important. Some vaccinations are required by law, such as rabies; however, other vaccinations, such as distemper, parvo, feline leukemia/aids and bordatella vaccinations are needed to reduce a pet’s chance of disease. Communities that host regular low-cost vaccination clinics help low-income families get their pets vaccinated at a price they can afford. Keeping pets healthy will keep them at home with their family. Many vaccination clinics also offer low-cost microchips which increase the chances of a lost or stolen pet being reunited with their family. Keeping a pet healthy with vaccinations and getting a lost or stolen pet back home is just another way to save lives.
Monthly Wellness Medications
While vaccinations protect pets against rabies and other diseases, there is a variety of medications to keep pets from being infected with fleas, ticks, intestinal worms, heart worms, etc.. These parasites can be deadly. Fleas and ticks can kill a young pet and quickly cause an adult pet to decline. A single infected mosquito can bite a dog or cat and infect them with heart worms. A pet with heart worms will die if not treated and the cost to treat can range from $400-$1,000+. This cost is typically more than a low-income family can afford. Giving low-income families access to preventative medication for their pets will keep their pets healthy.
Adoption & Transport
Keeping dogs and cats out of a shelter in the first place OR getting them adopted quickly from the shelter, is key to reducing them from being euthanized. It is important when it comes to adoption that agencies actively promote adoptions. This means hosting weekly adoption events at places such as Petco, PetSmart and other local venues. This gives people a chance to see the quality of the dogs and cats at the shelter. Having Saturday and Sunday hours of operation gives families a chance to look for a new pet outside of work hours. Many people resist visiting a shelter for fear their hearts will be broken seeing all the homeless dogs and cats or concern that the dogs and cats at the shelter are there because they have ‘issues’. This is just not true. When you are looking for a new pet, reach out to shelters, rescue groups and humane societies to adopt.
Another way to get dogs and cats out of a shelter is to transport them to quality shelters and rescue groups outside of North Carolina. Many States have had very strict spay/neuter policies in place for many years and are always looking for certain breeds of dogs, puppies, cats or kittens not available in their area. Dogs and cats transported outside of North Carolina are spayed or neutered and fully vetted so they arrive ready to meet their new family.
Animal Control & Enforcement
North Carolina has several State-mandated animal ordinances that each County must enforce. These State ordinances include laws related to rabies vaccinations, owning or harboring dangerous dogs, reporting of animal bites, etc.. Many Counties in North Carolina also have local animal ordinances more specific to their communities. To enforce both State and local animal ordinances, some Counties use deputies or police officers. Some Counties have set up a separate department called Animal Enforcement. Animal Enforcement deputies or officers have special training, special equipment, knowledge and authority to enforce both local and State animal ordinances. Unfortunately, there are Counties and communities in North Carolina that have no Animal Enforcement organization(s) and do not have any local animal ordinances. This leaves both the people and pets in a community or County at a disadvantage. It is important for residents to reach out to their local government, Sheriff or Police Departments to ensure their community has local ordinances and enforcement.
Every dog and cat owner has experienced issues with their pets. Barking, biting, chewing, not using a litter box, scratching furniture, etc.. While the internet is an good resource to ‘google‘ most issues, sometimes having someone to communicate with is ‘priceless’. Frustration with a pet can lead to the pet being given away, abandoned or taken to a shelter.
Many pet issues can be resolved without the pet losing its family. Free or low-cost dog training can get a dog or puppy back on track. Learning what to do when a cat refuses to use a litter box can mean the difference between a cat being an ‘inside’ cat or ‘outside’ cat or worse, being taken to the shelter.