Claudia Ray, director of the Morgan County Animal Control shelter in Hartselle, is the first animal control officer the sheriff’s department hired full-time for Morgan County, she said.
In the 19 years she has worked for animal control, Ray has seen a lot of animals. The shelter houses animals from abuse cases such as starvation and puppy mills, strays and abandoned animals, and pets relinquished by their owners.
“It’s really a different kind of job – seven days a week – 24 hours a day. You’ve got to put everything you can into your job because they deserve it,” Ray said.
The shelter, built in Hartselle almost three years ago, houses dogs and cats, one potbelly pig and a flightless “guard duck.”
“’Heather’ turned out to be a boy, so we just call him ‘Duck,’” Ray said.
“Duck,” who has been in the control center’s custody for almost five years, kind of serves as the shelter’s mascot for survival. He, like most of the animals there, has persevered through so much and wants only to be loved, Ray said.
On average the shelter houses between 75 and 100 animals needing permanent homes. The four full-time and two part-time employees walk the dogs, give all animals playtime with other animals and toys, bathe and feed the animals, and clean kennels each day.
“What do we owe these animals? We owe them 100 percent of whatever we can give to them,” Ray said.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) said there are approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals that enter shelters each year and of them about 3 million to 4 million who are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats).
While the Morgan County Animal Control shelter does euthanize, it is a last resort, Ray said.
The overpopulation of shelters and of animals in the United States in general, is a good reason to have pets spayed or neutered. According to the ASPCA, only 10 percent of animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered.
There is an adoption list at the Morgan County shelter. Strays are held for seven days before being put on the list. Ray said shelters should be the first place people go if they want a companion pet. Not only is adoption from a shelter giving a second chance to an animal with a loving adoptive family, but shelters are often full of purebred and infant animals, many born there, at a low-cost , she said.
For example, the Morgan County shelter rescued a Shih Tzu from a puppy mill and she had six puppies at the shelter. Often pregnant cats will have litters there too. Right now the facility is housing 8 kittens, 6 puppies ready for adoption in the middle of December, and are expecting more puppies in January, Ray said.
To adopt adult animals at the Morgan County Animal Control shelter it costs $40 (including rabies shot), and $20 for puppies or kittens (including their first shots, heartworm, and vet check).
“To me these animals have been through enough,” Ray said. “I can’t imagine their little hearts. I wish I knew what they are thinking.”
Ray says she gets attached to the animals the longer they stay, but is excited every time one of them is adopted. She recalls a special cat they named “Houdini” who spent two months at the shelter before adoption.
“It makes my heart feel so good. The kitten who was dumped behind the animal shelter now lives in a home. He wasn’t forgotten. One more home,” Ray said.
Hartselle’s furry friends at the Morgan County Animal Control shelter have a few items on their holiday wish list needed for their comfort:
• Old newspapers to line kennels
• Used towels and linens for bedding
• Dawn detergent
The Morgan County Animal Control shelter is at 1314 Industrial Drive, Hartselle, Ala., 35640. Contact the center by phone at 1-800-773-2934 or 256-773-2934; by fax at 256-773-2317; or by email at email@example.com.
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