Now that we are home and settled and sifting through all that we’ve seen and learned at our latest shelter visits, I am embracing every opportunity to share all that we learned visiting southern shelters.
Nancy and her dog Edith Wharton (my fiftieth foster dog who signs books with me) accompanied me to a speaking engagement last week. The wide eyes and the occasional tears in the audience told me that Read more
Our next to last shelter visit was actually two visits in one. We would visit the Giles County Animal Shelter, and also meet with some of the volunteers from the Giles County Humane Association, a foster-based rescue that supports the shelter.
This Humane Association/County Shelter partnership model is fairly common and usually turns out to be a good one for the dogs. While County shelters can’t fundraise and are limited to the budget they are given, a Humane Association isn’t and they can provide immediate support in areas where it is needed most – like veterinary services not covered in the budget, supplies, foster care, and when funds run low, collect donations of essentials like food and dewormers.
Giles County hadn’t been on my original list of shelters to visit. It was the Giles County Dog Pound back then, when a woman named Daphne, reached out to me through Facebook. “You have to see what is going on in Giles County,” she wrote.
I was intrigued and began looking into it. I was shocked by what I discovered. Read more
So many shelters, so many dogs.
I knew at the start of this trip it would be a lot and that keeping all the dogs, directors, and shelters straight might be a challenge. Having Nancy with me helps. I badger her with questions interrupting her work (she spends HOURS editing pictures not just for me and this trip, but to send to directors to use in their efforts to get dogs adopted).
“Which shelter was the one with that cool blue dog with the Catahoula spots?”
“Do you remember what the director said about whether they give Bordetella vaccines?”
“Was there a school bus parked in the yard behind the shelter?” (I actually asked that question more than once, vehicles seem to factor largely in rural southern shelter spaces.)
Nancy doesn’t always have the answers, but sometimes she does or sometimes her pictures provide the clues.
Maybe it was easy to mix up the shelters, as we visited two of four shelters/rescues that are literally within a few miles of each other in a county southeast of Nashville. Clearly, there are many people who care about animals in Bedford County, TN, but from an outsider perspective, I wondered if they were duplicating efforts and whether working together and pooling their resources might be a smarter solution, at least for the dogs. There wasn’t much time to examine that idea as there were dogs to meet and stories to hear.
We started at Shelbyville City Animal Control, arriving late because Read more
On Monday we finally made a pilgrimage to the mecca of animal shelters. Or at least that’s the way I thought of it.
I’ve followed Nashville Humane in the news and on social media for ages, and am always impressed with their innovative programs, how many dogs they move, and their clever, clever marketing. In the world of dog shelters, they are the Ritz Carlton. For the south especially, dogs that land there have truly hit the lottery.
With a 2.2 million dollar budget (all raised through private funding), of course they Read more
It’s very easy to disconnect down here. Easy to forget there is a world north of us where there isn’t an animal crisis at every turn.
Before we left, as we drove down, and now that we are here, I’ve been getting email messages from other shelters and rescues— ‘Come here! Animals are dying.’ ‘There is no animal control, not any shelter, sometimes they just shoot the animals.’ ‘Our shelter is crammed, we need your help!’
We want to go to all these places, but our schedule is jammed full of places equally in need of attention. I make a list of the places, ones I will find a way to come back to, but I wonder if I can help them and why it is me driving from shelter to shelter shouting into the wind. I desperately need a bigger microphone, more time, more money.
Yesterday we stopped Read more
Out to the west of Nashville, after a long slog on US 40 and several smaller highways that took us through Paris and Pillowville, we arrived in Greenfield. Our destination: the police station. We’d come to meet Tabi, officially the records clerk for Greenfield Police Department, unofficially—the keeper of the dog pound.
Tabi is a friendly, cheerful soul, despite Read more
All over our rural south there are dogs waiting.
Some lucky dogs are in progressive shelters who have staff, resources, and community support that allow them to place all of their adoptable dogs through local adoptions and outside rescues.
Some not-so-lucky dogs are in open intake, high-kill shelters that are routinely forced to euthanize for space. Many of the people who work in these shelters try desperately to save every dog they can but our understaffed, underfunded, undersupported and overwhelmed.
And then there are the dogs left behind at tiny municipal pounds in rural communities on back roads people rarely travel. Read more