As much as the workers and volunteers at the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter would like to save the lives of all the 17 cats or dogs that are taken to the shelter on average each day, they can’t.
The save rate for dogs varied monthly from 35 – 83 percent in 2015 while the save rate for cats varied per month from 12 – 61 percent in 2015.
“I know that one of your club goals is to save one child at a time,” Theresa Martin, a volunteer with the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter, told the members of the Williamsburg Kiwanis Club during their Dec. 8 meeting. “Our goal is to save one animal’s life at a time.”
Martin, who was the keynote speaker for the monthly meeting, noted that the shelter needs more people to “foster” animals, or temporarily house the animals for two to four weeks, until they can be taken elsewhere for adoption.
The departure date is already established before the animal goes to the foster home.
“All the foster family gives is love and a safe home,” Martin said.
Mobile Mutts Rescue covers all the expenses for the animal, and then transports the animal on the pre-arranged date from the local foster home to another foster home that is often in the Chicago or Minnesota area or sometimes further north in Canada.
The foster animals are then taken to a rescue organization, such as Heading Home K-9 or Second Hand Hounds, where they are adopted out within one or two weeks on average.
“We need more of foster families. This is a huge way of saving these animals lives,” Martin said.
Martin said that one of the biggest reasons people give for not wanting to become foster families is that they are afraid they will fall in love with the animals and it will hurt too much to give it way, which will probably happen.
“Who wouldn’t feel that way? You have loved this animal. It has become part of your home for two to four weeks,” Martin noted. “We say it absolutely hurts to give the dog up. However, the deeper satisfying joy you feel knowing you literally have saved that dog’s life far outweighs the pain. It is a good pain mixed with love and self-sacrifice.”
The Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter began operations in 1998 and currently serves four counties, Knox, Whitley, McCreary and Clay.
It is an open intake shelter, which means that it accepts any animal from those four counties.
The shelter employees six people, who work 365 days a year. Many of the employees are part-time.
Although the shelter receives some funding from each of those four counties, it is still largely relies on donations to operate.
The shelter is open to the public five days a week. It is open Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
The shelter has 50 large dog kennels and 25 cat kennels in addition to smaller kennels for puppies and kittens.
94 percent of the animals brought into the shelter are classified as owner surrenders, and the remaining 6 percent are strays. The animals only leave the shelter through one of three ways, adoption, rescue or euthanization.
The shelter received 6,420 animals in 2015.
“We have a massive over population in this area,” Martin added. “We are not a no-kill shelter. We are trying to get there.”
Martin said that the number one way to increase the save rate for cats and dogs is to have them spayed and neutered.
The shelter had 766 dogs and cats spayed or neutered in 2015 and over 1,000 already this year.
“One cat, eight years later could produce two million cat kittens,” Martin noted. “Spay and neuter is the number one thing you can do.”
During the Dec. 8 meeting, the Kiwanis Club voted to donate $200 to the animal shelter, and $200 towards the Gatlinburg relief effort.
Also during the meeting, the club presented a $300 donation to the Williamsburg Family Resource Center and a $200 donation to the Brush Arbor Housing Authority.
For more information about the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter, log onto their website at www.kwas.org or look for their Facebook page.
For more information about Mobile Mutts visit their website at www.mobile-mutts.org or look for their Facebook page.