Changes made at animal shelter

By: By Natalie Davis - ndavis@ansonrecord.com
Courtesy photo Gretchen McCollum, volunteer rescue coordinator, is pictured with Mac, a 50-pound hound mix up for adoption.

The Anson County Animal Shelter has been through “lots of changes” in the past two years, giving it “a completely updated look on the inside,” according to Director Maureen Lett.

Those changes include new adoption rooms, where people can sit and play with and visit both cats and dogs to get to know the animals prior to adoption.

Public hours also have been extended daily from 1 to 5 p.m.

Lett said that the shelter hired a Jason Kizer as an animal control officer last December and has more part-time kennel help, which was needed.

“We are doing a tremendous amount of pulling animals through rescues, decreasing the amount of animals that have to be euthanized,” she said. Out of 836, only 150 were put down this year so far, according to public records.

“I would rather not put any of them down, but some are extremely aggressive, and we do it for the safety of employees,” Lett said. “Some are sick, and we would rather they not suffer, so we put them down.”

Lett said that the shelter is important to the county since it helps decrease the number of unwanted animals.

“We no longer come out and trap cats; however, we allow people sign a trap rental agreement and borrow our traps at no charge,” Lett said. “They just bring the cats back to us.

“We also try to educate people on the importance of spay and neuter and rabies vaccinations,” Lett said. “With what donations allow, we gave back to people,” by helping pet owners with food, cat litter, and sometimes medical treatment.

“It allows people to keep their pets, instead of relinquishing them to the shelter because they’ve fallen on hard times,” Lett said, adding that the nonprofit Friends of the Anson County Animal Shelter aids in these ventures.

“We also try to arrange transport for people needing their animals fixed, like elderly people, by utilizing the small number of volunteers we have,” she continued. “My hope for the shelter is to make it the best county-run facility in the state with the lowest euthanasia rate, biggest number of volunteers and high adoption rate.”

She said that she also wants to start a low-cost spay and neuter program in the county.

“Stopping the overpopulation on the front end makes much more sense than euthanizing adoptable animals, just because we have such a high number,” Lett said.

It takes a lot more than what people think to make the shelter — a seven-day-a week operation — run.

“Most importantly, it takes lots of help through the staff working together, community support and volunteer involvement,” she said. “We have lots of people that back us and the vision of the shelter, and anytime I ask for help, people always come through.”

Lett said that she tells people that the shelter is like the hospital and that she thinks that her years spent working in the emergency room and with medical records really prepared her for this role.

“Cleaning, feeding, medicating, public relations, paperwork, record keeping, stocking, fundraising are just a few things that we do,” she said. “You have to be willing to roll with whatever comes in, address different situations, be level-headed, compassionate and tough all at the same time.”

Lett said that they have rules to enforce and sometimes hard decisions to make, but “at the end of the day, the animals welfare is our/my number one priority.”

Courtesy photo Gretchen McCollum, volunteer rescue coordinator, is pictured with Mac, a 50-pound hound mix up for adoption.
https://ansonrecord.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_animalofweek.jpgCourtesy photo Gretchen McCollum, volunteer rescue coordinator, is pictured with Mac, a 50-pound hound mix up for adoption.

By Natalie Davis

ndavis@ansonrecord.com