In one month since hiring a new interim director, there have been close to 100 animals adopted out of the Sampson County Animal Shelter — there were 139 adoptions in all of 2011.
Lori Baxter was named the county’s interim animal shelter director exactly one month ago, on June 22. The former animal services manager for Robeson County and animal control enforcement officer in both Cumberland and Guilford counties, Baxter not only brought experience, but has been able to establish and grow the shelter’s online presence while cultivating relationships with local rescues and volunteers to help the shelter realize significant adoptions and donations.
In the Sampson County Animal Shelter’s first week of having a Facebook page, it garnered more than 1,000 “likes.” That number has since risen to nearly 1,600. There have been thousands of others who have seen or heard about the local shelter through various updates and other information being shared.
Baxter said she is thankful for the positive feedback, and most definitely for the number of adoptions, which was at 95 around noon Friday.
“I’m just thrilled. It’s incredible,” she said. “Nobody can say it can’t be done. We’ve done in one month close to what the shelter did the entire year last year. I think that by itself is something to celebrate. I would attribute that to getting the animals out there. You don’t have to come out here to see them. You can go on the Facebook page or on PetFinder.”
A friend of the shelter, who actually lives in Canada, has also ensured that in the last week the information from the shelter — adoptable pets, other news and needs — is shared through nearly 50 other sites in an effort to throw a net over the optimum number of potential pet owners. Spreading the word about the shelter, and establishing that online presence, is the main reason for the success. It was something others talked about, but Baxter did it.
“That has everything to do with it,” she said, noting that some adoptions have been from in the county, but many others have come from outside the county, even the state. “Whether it’s in the county, out of state, all over the country, people everywhere have the opportunity to see the animals. Sometimes that’s all it takes to melt someone’s heart and have them spend the extra money to get here to adopt them.”
Baxter spent a great deal of time at the end of this past week meeting with county manager Ed Causey to discuss staffing, shelter needs and the direction it is headed. The talks have been very productive, she said.
“Mr. Causey definitely has a genuine interest in taking care of the shelter and making sure this place operates as it should,” Baxter said. “Now that the (county) budget has passed, he was able to spend close to five hours on Thursday and Friday listening to my concerns. In two days, we’ve spent five or six hours together. He has been very helpful.”
Even in the midst of some staff being out recently due to sickness and medical issues, that void has been filled by the outpouring of volunteers coming to the Sampson shelter. Baxter said she has been impressed with the participation and sense of volunteerism, which she said has been tremendous and provided a much-needed boost for the shelter when it has needed it.
“Not only are we welcoming volunteers, but for the last week we’ve really been relying heavily on them,” said Baxter. “They’ve stepped up beautifully. There’s so much community interest in the shelter and so many volunteers every day. My hope is to have a volunteer orientation so they know what to do, how to do it and what we need. I’m hoping we can do that in the next week or two.”
Along with the adoptions and volunteers, the shelter has also received sizable donations. “It’s all still steady coming in,” said Baxter.
Donations of everything from dog food and treats, to cleaning supplies and Clorox wipes have been received, along with 30 new bowls to attach to cat cages. The shelter has also received more vaccines in recent weeks and has gotten close to 20 Kuranda dog beds, firm, chewproof and easy to clean beds that are not an inexpensive donation at roughly $50 a pop.
“That’s no a small sum of money,” Baxter remarked.
Those interested in giving to the shelter can visit Amazon.com, and search for “Sampson County Animal Shelter” using the wish list function. Baxter said the shelter is in constant need of many things, some being the simplest of items. Shelving units are a need, as are towels.
“We need towels,” she said. “We know everyone has a stash of old towels in the back of their linen closet, and we need them.”
The group Friends of Sampson County Animal Shelter also pitched in to buy some needed office supplies for the shelter. Baxter said she is thankful for what people have given the shelter, whether it is time, money, donations or the gift of saving an animal’s life and giving them a good home.
“I can post something on Facebook when we’re in a pinch and they always respond,” she said. “I can’t tell you how wonderful that’s been.”
The shelter is open for adoptions from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Interested rescue groups should email Baxter, at email@example.com, to express interest in partnering with Sampson County Animal Shelter. The shelter can be reached at 910-592-8493, visited online at www.facebook.com/SampsonCountyAnimalShelter or in person at 168 Agriculture Place, Clinton, off of U.S. 421 South near the Sampson County Livestock Facility.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.