When Mom Runs the Shelter
Our next stop in Alabama was The Humane Society of Chilton County in Clanton, AL. I’d heard great things about this place and it didn’t disappoint.
Chilton has a very relaxed, happy air about it which made complete sense upon meeting the director. Jennifer is a former stay at home mom who began as a volunteer and ultimately became the director. She is calm and certain and clearly loves her job.
As director she is hands-on, rarely to be found in her office. Instead, she can be found in the kennels and pens, hanging out with the dogs, learning who they are and what they need so that she can find rescue for nearly every animal that comes into Chilton Humane.
The animals come to Chilton as owner surrenders and strays. When we arrived, the lobby area was full of crates – all animals that had arrived that week. They will eventually be moved into the kennels, but for now Jennifer makes room where she can because Chilton Humane remains committed to No-kill philosophy.
Because there is no public shelter, Jennifer works with Animal Control to find a spot for every adoptable animal. Aggressive animals that require a bite hold go to a local vet to board. 90% of their animals leave the county through rescue. All of them leave microchipped, spayed/neutered, and vaccinated.
Chilton handles about 1500-2000 animals a year. With a staff of two other fulltime employees and three part-time (one is a bookkeeper), Jennifer’s job is a BIG one that she handles like any mom who knows how to juggle and multi-task and be five places at once. She’s resourceful, not just in locating rescue and transports for her animals, but also by utilizing help from kids at the local high school and a special needs jobs program. It seems there’s a place for everyone at Chilton.
The shelter is an old building in desperate need of better ventilation. The long, narrow kennels are cement and worn, but clean. An employee walked through the kennels frequently, shovel at the ready, and a large industrial fan pulled air through the room.
Chilton County was given a large donation for a new building, but it’s not quite enough for a large, modern facility that Chilton needs, so Jennifer hopes the money can be used to update the current building and construct a modern addition.
Before we arrived, one of the members of the board at Chilton had alerted the media and a few minutes after we met Jennifer, a reporter turned up to interview me. Not one to waste even a moment, Jennifer excused herself to tend to dogs while I talked to the reporter.
By that evening, the article was live and I was relieved to see not only had she gotten her story right, but she managed to pull some pretty nice quotes that masked the fact that I was running on fumes and bad hotel breakfast.
After the reporter left, we caught up with Jennifer who was outside filling a large pink baby pool for the dogs to cool off in on the hot day. Chilton is blessed with an expansive beautiful, shady property. The pool was in one of the five enormous outdoor fenced areas I’ll call pastures for lack of a better word. Jennifer explained that the space, while wonderful, isn’t always practical; it could be more usable. I could see how it might be hard to catch a dog turned loose in that vast romping land.
As a private facility, Chilton County Humane can and does raise money to do the work they need to do, and they are blessed with incredible support from their community. We poked our heads into a shed full of plastic shelf beds meant to be used in kennels. They were donated to Chilton but don’t fit in their kennels. (Jennifer would love to find a shelter that would like all/some of them!)
We’d emptied out half of the donations in our Jeep at our previous stops before arriving at Chilton, but they were so blessed with donated items that instead of unloading any more, they filled our Jeep back up!
Visiting Chilton was inspiring – once again meeting a leader who is setting an example for what animal sheltering can and should be, even in the most rural places. A positive attitude is contagious and as any mom knows, sometimes your attitude is the only thing within your control.
We left Chilton and set off down the road with our Jeep stuffed to the gills to discover the Wiregrass Corner of Alabama. Wait till I tell you about SHARK!
Thanks for reading and following along on our journey, but most of all thanks for sharing and helping us get the word out! There are too many good dogs languishing in shelters all over the rural south. You can help us let the dogs out – your follows, comments, and most especially shares make a difference. Subscribe to this blog and/or follow on Facebook and Instagram.
Until every cage is empty,
I love it. <3