Operation Hot Dogs

July 5, 2023

A cement block building in Mississippi with no air conditioning is a lethal setup for an animal shelter.

It seemed like a great thing when Corinth-Alcorn Animal Shelter moved into a new building. After all, their old building was a Civil War Era schoolhouse covered in layers of blue tarps as the roof was quite literally falling in.

The Corinth-Alcorn Shelter is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit, so a new shelter wasn’t possible until they had been able to raise the funds through local donations, a generous bequest, plus grants from two national organizations.

The city agreed to rent them the Men’s Prison Work Release building for nearly nothing and then used the money the shelter had raised to make renovations the city deemed appropriate to turn it into an animal shelter. Those renovations did not include air-conditioning the kennel areas. While the ‘people’ spaces (spay clinic, lobby, front offices, medical intake area) have proper ventilation, heat, and AC, the dog areas do not.

Like every other shelter in the south right now, Corinth is swamped with dogs. At the time of this writing, they have 211 dogs.

I have to take a little sidebar here to explain that the state of Mississippi does not have municipal shelters. In fact, many of their counties do not even have animal control services (what would be the point if you don’t have a shelter to take the animals to?). Corinth-Alcorn Animal Shelter is a private nonprofit organization that contracts with the city of Corinth and Alcorn County to take in the animals brought in by the animal control officers of Corinth City and Alcorn County. They are not able to handle owner surrenders because they are far beyond capacity just handling the dogs they take in from Animal Control.

Charlotte, who has been the director since 2011, has truly changed the narrative for the shelter. She does not believe in euthanizing an animal just because there isn’t space. Instead, she finds room. That’s how the large kennel rooms and extra metal building have come to be crammed with dogs – not just in the spaces created to hold dogs, but also in crates all over the floors.

The shelter moved into the building last summer and the heat quickly overwhelmed. At one point, the temperature in the room housing puppies was 103 degrees. Several puppies succumbed to preventable illnesses due to the extreme heat and lack of ventilation.

Since then, Charlotte has rearranged as much as she can, trying to create a better situation, but too many dogs in too little space with no proper HVAC is what it is — a nightmare. The county does not feel obligated to add AC to the building. The shelter cannot afford the cost ($50K), and beyond that, it doesn’t make sense to invest that kind of money in a building that doesn’t belong to them to air condition spaces that are insufficient and poorly designed to house dogs.

So Charlotte has tried to be creative – moving some dogs outside into chain-link kennels under the cover of a pavilion and using enormous fans and open doors to ventilate the extra metal building, filling it with as many dogs as she can. They’ve utilized free-standing AC units, but they are expensive to run and not very effective in the expansive spaces they are trying to cool. Which still leaves dozens of dogs in grave danger in the cement building.

We asked what could we do to help. Charlotte shared an idea she had – to use the vast, grassy, 3 acres surrounding the building (which the city told her she could do whatever she wanted with) to house dogs in ‘condos’.  

She dreamed of buying portable buildings (think Amish-built sheds), adding window AC units, sealing the floor, installing kennels and surrounding each building with a fence so the dogs could come and go during the day and be ‘tucked in’ to their kennels at night.

I love this idea, not just because it would get the dogs out of the suffocating heat of the shelter, but it would allow them to live the way dogs love to live – with their buddies. This model would reduce the physical AND emotional stress of the dogs. And Charlotte could design the spaces the way she wanted to because they would belong to the shelter, not the city.

So, here’s where you come in – WWLDO has purchased on building that will house 8-10 dogs for $6500 (significantly discounted from a local retailer). We utilized $2500 of our Instagrant fund (provided through a grant-to-regrant from the ASPCA) and made up the difference ($4000) by borrowing from our shelter tour budget trusting that we can recoup that money through fundraising.

Charlotte is working on local contacts and the shelter’s resources to cover the floor, set up kennels, and add an electrical hook up. She has window ACs and fencing leftover from the old building they can utilize.

The land had been prepped and the building should arrive this week. Charlotte will fill it with the most vulnerable dogs who need relief now. It will be a new model for a better way of sheltering their animals. They have room to add many condos, and should they ever need to relocate again, they can take the buildings with them.

While it isn’t a lot of dogs, it is a start and a move in the right direction. The shelter staff cannot spend another summer dreaming of finding 50K to put AC in a building they don’t own while dogs perish.

We need your help to quite literally save dogs.

And while, yes, I agree with you that the state of Mississippi should have municipal animal shelters and an actual plan for handling animal services, it is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Meanwhile, hundreds of dogs are suffering for want of it.

It’s private nonprofits, like Corinth-Alcorn Animal Shelter who are standing in the huge gap left by a state that does not consider animal-services essential. Help us, help Corinth-Alcorn Shelter survive the heat in Mississippi AND shelter dogs in the most humane (and canine) way possible utilizing creative solutions to work around their limited resources.

Operation Hot Dogs is our chance to bring real change to an area desperately in need of it.

If you’d like to be a part of this project,click here to donateor text ‘Hotdogs’ to 707070 (or you can mail a check to Who Will Let the Dogs Out, 128 W High St, Woodstock, VA 22644).

If you or an organization you know would like to sponsor a Condo, let us know. We anticipate the cost to be approximately $10K. Sponsors would be able to name their Condo and have their logo painted on the side, plus lots of other PR perks.

UPDATE: To date, we have raised $1275 towards replenishing our shelter tour fun AND Thanks to a generous donor, Corinth-Alcorn will be getting a second Canine Condo!

If you are a rescue who can help move dogs out of the shelter into your care, please reach out to us (WhoWillLettheDogsOut@gmail.com) or to Charlotte (alcornpets@gmail.com).

Until each one has a home,


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You can also help raise awareness by following/commenting/sharing us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tik Tok, and the Who Will Let the Dogs Out podcast.

Learn more about what is happening in our southern shelters and rescues in the book, One Hundred Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues (Pegasus Books, 2020). It’s the story of a challenging foster dog who inspired me to travel south to find out where all the dogs were coming from. It tells the story of how Who Will Let the Dogs Out began. Find it anywhere books are sold. A portion of the proceeds of every book sold go to help unwanted animals in the south.

For more information on any of our projects, to talk about rescue in your neck of the woods, or become a WWLDO volunteer, please email whowillletthedogsout@gmail.com or carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

And for links to everything WWLDO check out our Linktree.


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4 Months Ago

So what happened to this building? It’s not there now.

Cara Achterberg
4 Months Ago

Thanks for asking! Because there was a change of management and it wouldn’t be utilized for the purposes it was intended, the board decided to donate the building to a local rescue that will use it for establishing a shelter space to save dogs. We plan to visit that rescue on our upcoming shelter tour and will share pictures and info then.