06/15/09 — Humane Society reaches goal

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Humane Society reaches goal

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 15, 2009 1:46 PM

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Members of the Goldsboro-Wayne County Humane Society Tuesday will present county commissioners with the $150,000 the society raised for the Wayne County Animal Adoption and Education Center. From left, center employee Sandy Davis, and society second vice president Suzi Wharton, president Barrett Parker and society member Jean Hollowell hold some of the animals at the center.

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The Humane Society sold memorial name plaques, like the one shown here, as a way to raise funds for the new animal center.

The riotous barking and meowing of abandoned and stray animals echoes throughout the Wayne County Animal Adoption and Education Center -- it is a sound that members of the Goldsboro-Wayne County Humane Society still find painful, but one that is now tinged with hope.

It has been less than two years since the society accepted the challenge of taking a lead role in raising money for the new center that opened last August.

On Tuesday morning, its members will present commissioners with the fruits of their efforts -- $150,000 raised by the community through donations and fundraisers.

About a half dozen society members are expected to make the presentation.

The society's second vice president, Suzi Wharton, member Jean Hollowell and its president, Barrett Parker, said they are grateful, but not surprised by the community's support.

Asked how it felt to be making the presentation, Ms. Hollowell said, "I will say (to commissioners) that I am thrilled and appreciative of the county's, the public's commitment."

The 11,000-square-foot facility is a far cry from the old, cramped and dreary animal shelter it replaced.

"I have worked on it (new facility) almost 20 years," Ms. Hollowell said. "It has been a dream for a very long time and that is what kept us going and encouraged us when we were fundraising and weren't sure were going to hit our goal.

"The structure was up and having it and the dream becoming a reality really kept us motivated to meet our goal. We didn't want not to meet our goal especially this dream (building) being a reality and it was really motivating after this was built to keep persevering forward to raise the funds."

Ms. Parker said she feels hope when she walks in the door.

"Hope, it is hope," she said. "There is an increase in traffic, adoptions are up. It is a place that people want to come to. There are better working conditions for staff and they are happier at work. Just everything is possible. We still have work to do, but we have come so far and the animals have a chance. I think in years past we didn't see that hope as we do now.

"There is no other center close by anything like this, the layout, the care given to the animals. It is unique here in the county. We are very proud and now when new people come to town we can say check out the animal center and a lot of others places, go see the YMCA, Wayne Memorial Hospital.

"Now it is one of the places in the county to be proud of," Ms. Wharton said. "One reason we named it the Wayne County Animal Adoption and Education Center as opposed to animal shelter, it is not a pound, not a shelter. There is power in words."

The fundraiser and committee started with a challenge from commissioners.

"A committee was formed basically to honor a commitment the Humane Society made to the Wayne County Commissioners and we agreed we would raise, or at least try to raise $150,000, if they would commit to build a new animal center," Ms. Hollowell said. "They made that commitment and that was really based in part on need and part on the way state regulations were developing and evolving regarding animal control in each county.

"And it was also because the Humane Society obtained about 20,000 signatures on a petition requesting the commissioners build a new center."

Ms. Parker said she was not trying to put words in commissioners' mouths, but, "I think it was kind of like the signatures are great but put your money where your mouth is. Can we get some funds from the public? So we agreed to try."

"I was not surprised. I knew the support was out there because the people had been saying they wanted a new center and those 20,000 signatures proved it right there," Ms. Wharton said.

The fundraising got under way in September 2007. Projects included selling corporate sponsorship plaques for $5,000 and $2,500, $500 kennel plaques, production of a "Petals and Paws" calendar and two telethons.

The project also was selected by HealtHabit as the beneficiary of its annual wine-tasting event that raised $15,000.

The society has sold 200 decorative pavers at $125 each that will be placed in a memorial garden at the center. The pavers may be in honor or memory of a person or pet.

A number of schools held fundraisers and individual classes adopted the center as a class project.

The society's Web site has brought in contributions from across the nation. People may still make donations through that site at www.goldsboro-wchs.org.

People may also send checks to the Goldsboro-Wayne County Humane Society, P.O. Box 821, Goldsboro, NC 27533. It should be specified on the check that it is for the animal center and its programs.

"We are proud of our animal center," Ms. Parker said. "We have it now and it feels good that we were a part of making this happen."

Although the goal has been achieved, the three women said they and the society would remain involved. They hope to see expansion of the volunteer and foster program as well as emphasis on the spaying/neutering program. They also are hopeful education programs will be set up.

Volunteers could be used to walk the dogs, feed the animals, answer the phone or perform clerical work.

Justin Scally, who recently left his job as animal control director to work for the Humane Society of the United States, has done a lot of preliminary work on a volunteer program, they said.

"It's hard to put to put a volunteer program into a place like this because for one thing you have got a liability insurance issue because you are working around animals," Ms. Hollowell said. "And a lot of people say they want to volunteer, but then they come in and see what they have to do and its like, 'Ugh, I don't want to do that."

"This is a new center, something we have never had in Wayne County. We have never had anything like this before and I believe the county wanted to get all of its policies and procedures in place as well expand manpower, they hired additional people to help run this facility," Ms. Hollowell said. "I think the integrity of this center had to be established before they could reach out for volunteers. I think they are getting to the place now where a volunteer program is getting to be a real probability."

People interested in the volunteer program should e-mail admin@goldsboro -wchs.org.

The foster program would allow people to assume temporary foster care of animal to help prevent overcrowding at the center, they said.

"This (center) was a tremendous financial commitment on the part of the county and the best and easiest way that our citizens can make sure this will never have to added onto or built again is to spay and neuter their animals," Ms. Hollowell said. "That will stop the killing and stop the need for an animal center."

"We knew the community would support us," Ms. Parker said. "The love for animals here in our community is strong. Now we feel our mission is to educate the community on exactly what Jean said abut spaying and neutering. That is part of responsible pet ownership," Ms. Wharton added.