Animal adoption and rescue numbers have spiked in Sampson County, but local adoptions have not seen the same rapid rise. In an effort to boost those local figures, the Sampson County Animal Shelter is teaming up with The Sampson Independent to publicize furry friends and find them a forever home.
Each week, one dog or cat will be featured as the “Pet of the Week” in The Independent’s Sunday edition, with a picture on the front page, along with a description and information on how to adopt them. The goal is to see those animals, and many more like them, adopted into a loving family.
Even if that particular animal is scooped up locally, there are dozens more dogs and cats at the shelter waiting for adoption, shelter officials said.
“We want to increase our local adoptions,” said shelter director Alan Canady. “When we did the figures for most of last year, local adoptions were only about 10 percent of what went out. This is a good start of increasing local adoption. I just want to make sure we give them as much chance as they can to get out, and get the exposure they need.”
Along with publishing photos of adoptable animals in The Sampson Independent, the shelter, in partnership with Sampson County Friends for Animals and others, are similarly taking the Pet of the Week to radio with the WCLN 1170’s “Country Store” and television via StarVision’s Channel 16, publicizing different dogs and cats on each.
“Lately, our turnaround time has been very quick,” said Canady. “That’s a good thing if someone comes here and says ‘hey do you have this dog,’ and it’s already been adopted.”
It means that animal has found a permanent home — and there are always more animals looking for one. For the shelter, it’s a no-brainer.
“It doesn’t take long to get a dog and take a picture,” said Canady. He said it was his hope, through Pet of the Week, to put the focus on some of the dogs or cats that have been at the shelter longer than others, having been looked over in favor of smaller, “cuter” kittens or puppies.
“It’s something we really need to do — place some local emphasis on it,” said local animal welfare advocate Lindsey Peterson, who brainstormed the idea with Tommy Tucker, Canady and shelter attendant Anna Ellis. “The local community really needs to step up on this. Once the spay and neuter program is put into effect, it is not going to be the cost situation that it was before.”
That low-cost spay and neuter program, by which the county would be fully-reimbursed by the state for all program eligible, documented spay and neuter procedures conducted locally, is expected to not only aid local adoptions but would be extended to other animals outside the shelter. Canady said that is still in the works.
Even as the shelter begins that program’s implementation, there is also an impending transition from gassing to lethal injection that represents a seismic shift in how Sampson County deals with animal care. It is one that Canady said will require more staff time and resources.
The ultimate goal is to be more humane, control the pet population and find animals home. Rescue organizations, local and out-of-state, have stepped up over the last year.
“Rescues more than anything that have helped us out,” said Ellis.
Now, the public is urged to reach a hand out to an animal that needs it. The Pet of the Week is part of that push to bring awareness and put a face to the issue.
Canady thanked many who have helped in the effort, including Lyman Horne, executive vice president and general membership of Star Telephone Membership Corporation, Sampson Independent editor Sherry Matthews, as well as Sampson County Friends for Animals, Paws Rule and others for their participation.
“We are thrilled to help promote these animals,” Matthews said. “Anything we can do to help find good homes for the animals, we want to do as part of our ongoing effort to assist the community.”
This is just one of many ongoing initiatives at the shelter.
“Once the weather starts cooperating a little bit more, we plan on going out in the area and holding adoption events,” Canady said.
“Walmart and Tractor Supply have been very receptive to supporting the local welfare community,” added Peterson, who is affiliated with Friends for Animals and local non-profit Paws Rule. “They let us go out there and set up our pop-up tents and sell stuff and give out materials.”
PetSmart is affiliated with Walmart, said Canady, and pay for each local animal adopted during fairs held at those stores. “Not only is the county getting the money for the adoption, they’re also getting money from PetSmart Charities. That’s one way of getting animals out of here, but it’s also a way of creating money for the shelter.”
Those funds would go to the Animal Shelter’s donation account. Canady said there is an annual event in Cumberland County every April that welcomes out-of-county organizations.
“That’s something that’s in the works,” said Canady. “The biggest thing right now is getting volunteers set up, and getting our staff here to where we can do it.”
The Sampson County Animal Shelter’s Facebook page has nearly 4,000 likes, and Canady credited social media with helping the shelter’s adoption and rescue rate increase by 300 percent, while similarly working to reduce the shelter’s euthanasia rate by 50 percent.
However, just one out of every 10 cats and dogs taken out of the shelter is actually adopted locally. Canady said exposure through various local outlets was key in transforming that. Utilizing Facebook is a must in continuing down a successful path, but reaching those whose lives may still be devoid of tablets, smartphones, even regular use of the Internet, was important in seeing that the local population is reached, he said.
“The goal for any animal shelter is to have an animal leave out the front door rather than the back,” Canady said, with a special emphasis placed on local adoptions. “It’s around 10 (percent). I’d love, close to next year, for that local adoption to be around 40 or 50 percent.”
The Sampson County Animal Shelter is located at 168 Agriculture Place, Clinton, near the Livestock Facility off U.S. 421 South. The facility is open for adoptions from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. To reach the shelter, call 910-592-8493 or 910-592-1294.
The shelter can be visited online at www.facebook.com/SampsonCountyAnimalShelter. Inquiries can be made on that page, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.