By Sarah Colson
Last weekend, the Humane Society of Washington County stayed busy getting cats and dogs adopted at PetSmart’s National Adoption Weekend event and then dancing the night away at the society’s annual Dogwood and Cattails Ball. This year’s theme was “The Great Catsby.”
While guests dressed up like they were the cat’s meow, board member Sandra Lewis said fundraising for the humane society is no catwalk.
“We’re committed to this no-kill business,” she said.
Last year, the event netted $65,000 and board member Lucinda Grandy said they’d like to reach $85,000 this year. Last year’s medical expenses alone were $123,000, supplemented by grants and donations.
More than 200 guests attended the ball and Grandy said the whole point is to have fun for a great cause.
“This entire event is about the animals,” she said, “but we want to make it fun for the people too because we rely on the people to take care of the animals.”
Grandy and fellow board member Libby Lewis said also that the relationship between the humane society and the Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter, which opened its new, larger facility one year ago, has been vital in making sure local animals are cared for.
Lewis volunteers at the animal shelter at least once a week. She said it’s been a “blessing” to see the two organizations come together for different events like the PetSmart adoption weekends.
“They see that we care and that we want to make a difference as well,” Lewis said. “A lot of people think that we don’t work together, but we do. We take animals out of there to go to PetSmart every other weekend and other events. If they’ve got puppies or kittens, they call us. If there’s a dog that needs more medical attention than what they can provide, they call us and we go and get that dog.”
Lewis also said it’s thanks to their partnership that pit bull breeds are able to be adopted outside of Washington County.
“They were never able to adopt pit bull breeds out of the county until we started helping them out with home checks,” she said. “So now we go outside of the county—Greene County, Sullivan County, Roan Mountain, Elizabethton—and we do their home checks for them for their bully breeds. Our relationship is really, really good.”
Grandy said it’s the two organizations’ ultimate goals that inspire them to work together.
“All we’ve ever wanted to do is just take care of animals,” she said, “and they’re allowing us to help them do that and it’s great.”
Right now, Grandy said it’s “kitten season,” meaning the society could use help with fostering the overwhelming amount of kittens born in the area without homes. She also stressed the need for owners to understand the importance of spay and neutering.
“While we’ve gotten headway with it,” Grandy said, “people have got to understand that you’ve just got to fix your pets. All it takes is them getting out one time. And we’re glad to take them, but with kittens it’s very, very hard. They have to stay with a foster longer. Our feline foster families are very committed. But we just need to get animals fixed.”
The next big event planned is June 11. The humane society is partnering with the shelter to offer the free, approved adoption of any dog that’s been at the shelter for more than three months. Other events include “Pints for Paws” the first Thursday of every month at Yeehaw Brewery, Barktoberfest (September), and the new Cat Barn Placement Program where community members can volunteer their barn as a new home for feral cats.
To find out how you can volunteer or to learn more about the Humane Society of Washington County, call (423) 926-8533 or visit hswctn.org.