By Christie Pool
Over the past month or so, my daughter and some of her friends have volunteered at the Pickens County Animal Shelter walking dogs and playing with kittens. During the time I’ve spent there I have been truly amazed at the incredible work shelter employees and volunteers do - every single day.
Each time we’ve dropped by to give doggie treats or walk the dogs, we are greeted by the staff with stories of new animals they’ve rescued from the streets or from homes where they were being abused or neglected. From the Director, Phillip Tippens, to Assistant Director Judy Moody, Animal Control Officer Billy Lingerfelt, and Kennel Technicians Tim Beck and Jeff Cantrell, the Pickens Animal Shelter team always works to care for the animals that wind up in our shelter.
Day after day they continue to be positive and supporting of these animals - some of whom, because of their advanced age or perhaps an injury, wind up staying at the shelter waiting for a home for many months.
And loyal volunteers, like Ashley Evans who spends countless hours photographing the dogs and cats to post online in the hopes of getting them adopted, take time out of their own lives every week to help immeasurably. Shelter workers and volunteers - and there are several others who donate their time weekly or monthly - are incredible, high-quality human beings. They open themselves up emotionally to experience intense sadness and heartbreak. But they can also experience intense joy when a dog or cat that seems like he will never find a forever home, finally meets that one person or family who was looking for a pet exactly like the one they saw at the shelter.
Director Tippens has said he expects at least 800 animals to be adopted through the shelter this year. That’s an amazing number. In the first six months of this year, the shelter took in 692 animals and placed 386 in permanent homes or with rescue groups. And each animal that leaves the shelter is spayed or neutered, reducing the county’s potential animal population by thousands.
The cost of spaying or neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising puppies or kittens for a year.
Some 2.7 million animals are euthanized in shelters each year in America - 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats. That number, however, is not bolstered by those at our local shelter where just two percent of the animals who are brought in wind up being put down.
While we applaud the Pickens Animal Shelter employees and volunteers who work so hard to give so many animals a chance at a life they deserve, we’d also like to encourage more of you to be a part of the solution.
Get your own pet spayed or neutered so you don’t contribute to the problem of pet overpopulation. Volunteer at the shelter and become part of the solution. By volunteering you can make the jobs of everyone working for animals a little easier by lending a hand and spreading the message of responsible pet ownership.
If you volunteer, you know your efforts will help an animal get ready and increase its chances for a new home. Help socialize the animals that may have been abused. Animals that appear happy and healthy have a higher chance of being adopted, and our shelter needs your help to achieve this. Besides, you’ll never find a more grateful companion than an animal you’ve comforted.
So instead of walking laps to get your Fitbit steps in for the week, drop by the shelter and help an animal get some exercise too. Being a volunteer keeps your mind, body and emotions healthy. Sitting at home on weekends in front of a television can get boring; playing with a puppy sounds much more fun than being a couch potato.
If you can’t physically visit the shelter, there are other ways to help. Monetary donations to Partners of Pickens Pets are always appreciated to help individual animals. Blankets and toys are always appreciated.
[The shelter is located at 3563 Camp Road. Phone 706-253-8983 or online at PickensAnimalShelter.com.
They are open Tues. - Fri. noon to 5 p.m. Sat. 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.]