Thursday, March 29, 2012
Walker County Animal Shelter manager Alison Smith set a goal to turn the shelter into a pet placement center — as opposed to a kill shelter — when she took the job six years ago. Due to challenging circumstances, she now says that goal will only be met with more community support.
“Every healthy, friendly animal that comes in here has the potential to be adopted,” said Smith. “We could save thousands of pets’ lives through dedicated foster families.”
She said few shelters can offer what true home life feels like for pets. Pets living in shelters can feel imprisoned, so foster families could reintroduce them to society and help them become more sociable and adoptable.
She hopes to find 30 dedicated families to foster pets for a few weeks at a time.
In addition, she is asking pet owners to provide responsible pet care at home and to have their companion animals spayed and neutered to help decrease the number of new animals coming into the shelter. Of the 64,000-plus Walker County residents, probably one-third, or 20,000, care for pets, according to Smith.
Saturday, April 28 Walker County Animal Shelter will host free Fostering 101 classes at 10 a.m. inside the shelter.
“The point of Fostering 101 is to see if it’s something you want to do,” said Smith, who owns two adopted dogs named Kiwi and T-Rex. “My intention of having this class is to have a way to give people the opportunity to learn the needs of these unwanted and abandoned animals, so we can better prepare animals for their ‘furever’ home.”
Walker County Animal Shelter administrative assistant Ashley Lee has started a Good Dog Shelter Dog Foster Program page on Facebook. She uses it as a tool to search for foster homes for pets at the shelter.
CONTACT THE SHELTER
The Walker County Animal Shelter, at 5488 N. Marble Top Road in Chickamauga, can be reached at 706-375-2100. The shelter is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The shelter has 38 runs, a puppy room and a cat room. Cats, kittens, dogs and puppies are available for adoption. Cats cost $15 and dogs cost $40. Those adopting must sign a form committing to spay or neuter the pet. Visit the shelter's website here.
Presently, Lee is fostering a small shelter puppy named Turtle.
“Just think about a shelter dog that no one looks at,” said Lee. “If you foster that dog for a few weeks and teach it to sit and act well, it helps its chances of being adopted. By fostering dogs I could save 100 lives in one year.”
Smith said she recommends that animals have proper food, be part of family life, be socialized and spend between two to four weeks with foster families. She wants people to step up to give animals what they need to be a part of society.
“Each month we number animals with red tags the community brings in,” Smith said. “Black-tagged animals represent what Animal Control brings in. We have many more red tags. The community drops off lots of animals here.”