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Humane society seeking support

Intake up, so are medical bills

POSTED: September 17, 2012 12:32 a.m.
Autumn Vetter/

Lancelot is one of a number of dogs rescued and nursed to health by the Forsyth County Humane Society. Once suffering from a broken pelvis, the dog is ready for adoption.

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Like it often does, Lance White’s phone rang several months ago with a plea from a volunteer of the Humane Society of Forsyth County.

The volunteer had seen a dog at a Clayton County shelter whose pelvis was broken after being struck by a car.

“She said, ‘Can you please, please take this dog?’ They were going to go ahead and do immediate euthanasia,” recalled White, president of the local organization.

And like he often does, White couldn’t say no.

With some help from volunteers, he brought the dog, Lancealot, to a vet’s office on a gurney.

That was in the spring. This week, Lancealot romped around his pen, waiting for his first chance to find a new home at an upcoming adoption event.

“What a difference six months makes,” White said. “Can you believe he had a crushed pelvis?”

As an adult dog of nearly 2 years, Lancealot’s adoption fee is $200, like those for all others. His medical bills, however, topped $10,000.

These cases are “unfortunately” common at the nonprofit, no-kill humane society, White said.

The economic downturn has caused a spike in animals going to the shelter, but a drop in donations to help with those costs.

Several large medical bills recently have contributed to the society falling into the red and asking for help from the public.

White said the big hearts of the volunteers and employees who make up the society causes them to take in animals that others may not.

When he goes to a kill shelter to “pull” animals for the humane society roster of adoptions, White said he’ll usually bypass the cutest cats and dogs because he thinks they’ll have a good chance of getting out alive.

“We want the ones from the back room,” he said. “The ones that we can help, that are in danger of being put down.”

The same is true for animals that come straight to the humane society.

Lauren Bayles, shelter coordinator for dogs, said she received a phone call one day that a dog had been hit by a car and dragged down the road under the carriage.

“Her leg looked like a rubber band sitting there,” Bayles said of the dog, which she named Belle.

Belle’s bills totaled $5,000 for complications with the stitches on her back and more than a month of boarding fees, but she’s since been adopted into a loving home.

Cats get the same treatment.

Cat shelter coordinator Jennifer Howard said Tippa, a 9-month old, had her leg bone shattered by a shot from a .22.

The cat’s leg was repaired and she recently gave birth to five kittens at her foster home.

Howard also recalled Puffy, a kitten whose leg was broken after a dog attacked it.

After fixing the break, vets noticed a defect in her paw.

“When she steps down, she kind of rolls,” Howard said. “That part of it is a birth defect. The break healed perfectly.”

While many shelters would take the less expensive route of amputating the leg, White said the local organization will always take any option to save it.

That reputation has caused a lot of animals surrendered by owners to end up in the humane society, rather than the county shelter, where there’s a possibility they could be euthanized.

People can also confuse the two facilities.

The Forsyth County Animal Shelter receives funding from the county and works with animal control, while the Humane Society of Forsyth County is an independent nonprofit run by volunteers that receives no government funding.

In recent years, the number of animals taken in at the humane society has increased, from 627 in 2009 to 1,064 in 2011.

At the county shelter, the numbers have fallen from 3,537 in 2009 to 2,950 last year.

White suspects the humane society has served to lessen the burden on the county shelter, which has contributed to its mounting financial needs.

Forsyth County is working toward the anticipated 2014 opening of a new animal shelter, which could reverse that trend.

In the meantime, the society has upped its fundraising events in recent years and opened a thrift store to take in more donations.

The biggest fundraiser of the year, the Bark & Boogie Ball, will take place Oct. 20.

On Monday, the humane society will hold its Spay-ghetti and No Meatballs spaghetti dinner fundraiser that benefits the spay and neuter fund from 5 to 9 p.m. at Bello Italian Restaurant.

Due to the recent veterinary expenses, though, donations to the special needs medical fund are in the most demand.

“The residents of Forsyth County have always supported the animals in the past,” White said, “and support at this critical time will be greatly appreciated.”

 

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