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Love has Four Paws

Dontation from the Marshall County Girl Scouts in March 2020

Though dogs have long had the reputation of being ‘man’s best friend’, and cat lovers may insist that felines are more friend-worthy, the truth about either of our favorite domesticated darlings is that they are often more than mere friends- they are family. The Fulton County Animal Center has been at the forefront of keeping our furry companions a safe and healthy part of our community. “Every single day brings something different,” says Janet Showley, the Executive Director of FCAC. “It can be exhausting- physically and mentally, but it is a very rewarding job.” The Center, a ‘not-for-profit’ organization, opened at its current location in 2011, and has been a tireless advocate for animals and the people who love them. In addition to being a ‘no-kill’ intake facility, the Fulton County Animal Center offers services that provide for the care of canines and kitties before and after they find their forever homes, with focus on and services that include: - Match Making- The Fulton County Animal Center takes pride in having the experience and expertise to match pets with homes where they will flourish and be loved as family members. Additionally, each match made through a shelter is one less animal that is purchased through unaccountable puppy mills and mass breeders. - Adoption and Education Center- A wealth of information is available at the facility, where the staff is armed with knowledge and advice to help keep pets in their homes. Lists of local trainers, resources for low-cost options for pet’s needs, grant money to help in tough financial times, access to their pet-food pantry, and basic animal care advice are among the resources available. They also offer hands-on learning opportunities for people interested in volunteering at the shelter. - Reuniting Lost Pets- Pets often get loose and run away, and many are lucky enough to be recovered by animal control or other people from the community. The Fulton County Animal Center plays a vital role in reconnecting these lost animals with their families by being the link between the displaced pet, the people who found them, and the people who lost them. In 2019 alone, the Center reunited 104 dogs and 14 cats safely with their owners. - Improving Pet Health and Curbing Overpopulation- The Center provides excellent veterinary care to sheltered animals, and refers new pet parents to veterinarian clinics upon adoption. Though the shelter does not perform spay/neuter procedures, they do encourage them and offer access to free or low-cost resources, transport programs, partnerships with local veterinarians, and low-cost voucher initiatives. They also endorse ‘Trap-Neuter-Return’ programs in an effort to lead the community by being proactive instead of reactive in stemming the tide of unwanted dogs and cats.

The amount of effort to run and maintain a facility in a county of approximately 20,000 people and their pets can be daunting, but the Fulton County Animal Center survives and thrives via the dedicated commitment of not only their employees and volunteers, but from the community itself. “We are so lucky to have such an amazing animal loving and supportive community,” Janet says. Local fundraising, including a craft show in the spring, a rummage sale in the summer, and a Nelson’s Chicken fundraiser in the fall that were all huge successes. Donations makeup 40% of the Center’s entire income, so initiatives like donation jars at the counters of local businesses and other means of community support are extremely important. The needs and support of the community enabled the Fulton County Animal Center to expand their facility in 2017, but as they look to the future, the demand for services continues to grow. Fundraising events, adoption promotion days, and volunteer appreciation events help to bring the community together, as do events designed to allow pets and their owners to enjoy the great outdoors together. But the staff and volunteers are always looking forward to ways to improve the lives of animals, locally, and beyond. “We want to focus more on community outreach in the future, making sure we can get to pet owners before they reach the point of surrendering their animals,” Janet says. “We would also like to eventually be a ‘mentor shelter’ for surrounding counties- taking in animals who are at risk of being euthanized or being kept in overcrowded conditions in neighboring facilities. We are very good at what we do, and we want to share our success.” If the true measure of a society is how well it treats its most vulnerable members, surely how it regards its pets is just as important, and if so, our community is well represented by the Fulton County Animal Center and its supporters.

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