FHS announces 2010 results, 2011 membership drive

Published 4:39 pm Monday, January 10, 2011

Stray, abandoned and abused animals are nothing new in America. Dogs and cats have been multiplying at an alarming rate for decades, resulting in the deaths of 4-5 million cats and dogs in shelters alone, and countless more starving, hit by cars or killed by other animals.

Irresponsible owners, breeders and puppy mills produce this tragedy. Female dogs and cats are able to reproduce at six months of age and can give birth to more than 15 animals each year, which has produced an exponential population explosion.

Despite the odds, a local non-profit working hard to give those animals a chance at a decent life is finding success. Foothills Humane Society opened the countys only open-admission animal shelter in 1990.

In 2010, FHS finally became an adoption guarantee shelter, one where no healthy or treatable, temperamentally adoptable animal is destroyed. The shelters 2010 live release rate for all animals was 98.7 percent. It is a major accomplishment and shows better results than reported by the top no-kill shelters in the country.

This is a big improvement from a 40 percent live release rate just five years ago. While that was better than most shelters, according to Foothills Humane Society President Robert Then, it still resulted in way too many animals euthanized, and we wanted to do better.

The live-release rate has improved every year since. This has taken many years to achieve and is the result of the dedication and resources of hundreds of people, and a national awareness and mobilization to save the animals, according to operations director Dot Moyer.

Over 200 active volunteers donated approximately 6,000 hours last year doing the many things it takes to save these lives, she said. We could not have done it without the unbelievable support of this wonderful community.

FHS 2010 success came from expanded programs, services and newly built intake and infirmary facilities, allowing the society to place the 1,745 stray, abandoned and abused animals it received last year.

The expansion in programs and facilities, and more savvy use of the internet and networking, gave FHS the tools needed to save the animals.

Po Kitties trap-neuter-return program sterilized and vaccinated 315 cats and returned them to their colony caretakers or barns as green pest control technicians.

Another major contributor to the live-release-rate increase was the medical treatment made possible by funds donated to Lennies Fund, named for FHS volunteer and staff member Leonard Rizzo, who commits himself to the treatment and adoption of each kid. Also, FHS Chicken Soup Fund covers the treatment of animals that would otherwise have to be euthanized.

The veterinarians of this community are heroes. Without their support, none of this could happen, Rizzo said.

Population control is the only long-term solution, however, and FHS invested $53,000 in spay/neuter surgeries during 2010. Over 1,300 shelter animals, pets of residents needing assistance and the PoKitties were sterilized, preventing an estimated 30,000 unwanted births. FHS is working to increase the numbers sterilized according to Then, we cannot adopt our way out of pet homelessness.

Saving the communitys animals takes an annual budget of over $400,000. According to FHSs treasurer Kathy Toomey, most of the cost is raised privately, with Polk County paying a portion of the expenses for sheltering strays for the three-day legal hold period.

FHS is kicking off its 2011 membership drive this month. Anyone can become a member by sending a donation of any size to FHS Humane Society, 989 Little Mountain Road, Columbus, N.C. 28722.

For more information about the Foothills Humane Society, visit www.foothillshumanesociety.org, or call the shelter at 828-863-4444.