The Humane Society of Independence County in Batesville Arkansas is a growing shelter looking to make a difference in their community. Their goal is to rescue and provide a safe shelter for abandoned, abused, homeless, and unwanted dogs and cats within the county; and also secure loving, stable homes for them. A community goal is to reduce the unwanted pet population by encouraging the spaying and neutering of all dogs and cats through education and awareness.
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The Humane Society of Independence County in Batesville, Arkansas, is a growing shelter looking to make a difference in their community. Their goal is to rescue and provide a safe shelter for abandoned, abused, homeless and unwanted dogs and cats within the county, and also secure loving, stable homes. A community goal is to reduce the unwanted pet population by encouraging the spaying and neutering of all dogs and cats through education and awareness.
Hi, Meghan. Welcome to the show. Hi. How are you doing today? I’m doing great. I’m very excited. Yeah. I mean, we’re excited to have you. And I’m definitely looking forward to getting to know a little bit more about you and your organization. You’re the shelter director at the Humane Society of Independence County and Arkansas. Is that right. That is correct. I’m proud of it. Yeah, definitely. So why don’t you just go ahead and jump in and tell us a little bit about your organization and how you got started there? Okay, great. So the Humane Society has been around here in Independence County for Gosh, it was 19 nineties, and then we built our shelter in 2002. And so we’ve been an actual functioning shelter in a building since then, and we are a no kill local shelter. And I actually started working there around five or six years ago as the shelter manager. I worked there for three years, and then life happened and we moved in a different direction. My family and I. So I left. And then recently, back in September, I was asked to come back as the shelter director. And so I have officially been there since September, and we’re doing great. I mean, I’m excited to be there. I love my job. It’s just a great place to be. That’s awesome that they actually called you and wanted you to come back. I mean, that’s a great thing, you know? They’re like, Hey, we need her back Yeah, and I was certainly interested to have always rescue. I love to rescue animals, so I had been doing it on my own anyway. And when someone heard that I was wanting to do more than just what I was doing and they were looking for a shelter director, they hollered at me and asked me if I could come back and that’s it. Well, absolutely. I would love to be there. That’s awesome. Doing job Go Yeah, I mean, it sounds like it. So how has the organization changed over the years from when you first started? As opposed to now, it’s not that it has changed per se. We’ve just learned more. I think that, you know, shelter manager Shelter work is always progressing, so we learn more about shelter, medicine and shelter protocols. Every day we have vacated board members. Now we have a dedicated employees and staff members and volunteers. So I think really, just the fact that shelters in general are becoming a more popular and common thing is really what has changed the most. We’ve been able to grow because people are coming out with different medicines in different protocols, and it’s allowing for us tohave healthier animals and safer shelters in general, you’re absolutely right that organizations in the animal welfare industry were constantly learning right. There’s always new stuff’s coming out. There’s always new stuff to be done. So I think that’s great. And I think that that’s a good outlook tohave on it. So what is kind of like your overall mission at the Humane Society? Our main goal at the Humane Society is honestly to reduce the population through spaying and Neutering. And a lot of that falls under the education category. So just educating the public about paying neuter, you know, being in Arkansas were further down south, and I’m not sure why. But people don’t spay and neuter down here quite as frequently as I do in the Northern State. I really don’t know why that is so. We’re just kind of trying to read the education of that, and we support our community in that aspect. We offer to help pay for those things, basing neuter specifically. Obviously, our biggest goal after that would be adopting out these animals to good loving homes. We worked tirelessly. I mean, we post on face, but we put animals in the newspaper. We go on the radio. We do everything we can to get these animals good loving home, not just new adopting amount anybody. So our official mission statement is rescue and provide a safe shelter for abandoned, abused homeless and unwanted dogs and cats within the county, and secure loving, stable homes. For them, a community goal is to reduce the unwanted pet population by encouraging spaying Neutering of all dogs and cats through education and awareness. I love asking this question because it does differ from not only organization to organization, but the state that you guys live in. Also, you know, you kind of touched based a little bit on that people around your area don’t really spay and neuter as much as other places. So what are some of the challenges that they face over there dumping animals? I probably get, I would say, an average of one call a day about someone who has found puppies or kittens dumped in a box, especially Round puppy and Kitten season, which are the spring and then end of the fall months. I probably get at least one of those a day. It’s crazy, and in that call the Humane Society for help. But what we run into is there are people who need us to taking expandable. They can’t afford to feed, then work. You know that can’t afford to be there and take care of them. And so they call us for help and I have a waiting list and it’s got 20 something people in about 75 or so dogs that are just waiting to come into our shelter. And those are just the people who have contacted us, and we’re not even above being hidden season. So we’re actually on the shorter end of our waiting list. So they call us for help. And the only thing I can do is just Adam to the waiting list and hope that we can get to them quickly. Of course, we offer food, and you know, if we have extra shelter for those somebody has donated a doghouse or anything, we offer that to them as well. But there’s only so much we can do. You don’t have the space and just don’t have a day. Yeah, I mean, for people that are kind of new to this industry or new to kind of listening to this podcast to get one of those calls a day about any litter of anything, whether it’s puppies or kittens, I mean the litters, a litter. And there’s usually quite a few of them, you know? So one phone call about that a day is crazy. And I understand the waiting list. I mean, you know, you guys were limited also, but the fact that you guys were still offering assistance when you have it, whether it be food or whatever of that nature, you know, it shows that you guys are trying to help a cz Muchas you can, even though you can’t quite take those animals in right away. We haven’t been great about this from the past, but we are working towards being much better. We are trying to call those people on the waiting list every week to and get updates. And you know you have the same amount of heavy if you found a home with one of the tooth and we could take the other one, so we try to keep an update on them every week. We don’t always do that, but we try, and that’s what you guys are calling. That helps a lot. Yeah, it doesn’t. They tend to appreciate it and even just just talking about it. Just venting to someone who understands and who sees this on a daily basis. It tend to help them and encourage them to do Maureen awaken. Give them tips. Diana, you’ve got this litter of puppies. You’ve got some hailing around the straw. You know, lay it out there for a more. If you’ve got a nice, large kennel, you need to borrow one. We can give you one until you bring a man. So we do try to accommodate as this as we can. I definitely feel like that shows them that you guys haven’t forgot about him and that they’re not just on a waiting list. Right? And that was my goal. You know, when I first started back in September, there were 40 some odd people on the dog list and they were close to 30 on the cat, and I’ve managed to get that down to eight people on the cat list and about 20 on the dog was, which is a drastic difference. I don’t think even in my three years previous, I don’t think it’s ever been that low and again. We’re not in puppy and kitten season, but we have lowered that, which is incredible. It’s a wonderful thing, and our adoption rates are going up higher because we’re taking in more animals so we can get more animals out. So it’s a win win on the sides. It definitely is. And I think it’s great that you’re making it a point to contact these people. So you could have mentioned that you guys like to educate the public, whether it be about spaying or Neutering. I mean, that was the main focus. But what are some of the programs that your organization offers to kind of help? Not just educationally, but just overall. So we just got a grant recently for $2500 it is allowing us to offer coupons for staying there so it covers $50 towards there. Dogs say neuter or cat bear neuter, and then I just use one of the vets and Independence County and then they hand the coupon over the the lust and would cover $50 of that. But we do have that available to the public that brand new we just started that leave last week and we’re fixing to get out on the radio and the newspapers and all of that. And then we have a a neuter clinic that we are working with, hopefully have one every year, and the bring in the fall to offer extremely low cost a neuter to the public. I don’t know the exact cost on those because, like I said, we’re still kind of negotiating on that. But we are hoping to offer that. And then just in general, we are planning on reaching out to the public in multiple ways. French insist podcast. Anyway, we can possibly reach the public and just express how important thing and Neutering your animals are. And so we’re also working on that. Hopefully gonna get on the radio to talk about it and even TV is we could do that. Newspaper articles and magazines will be in a magazine, I think, in February, so I mean, there’s anything we can do to raise awareness. And then, of course, we are willing to help threw neuter program. Well, I feel like that’s a great thing for you guys to do, and the fact that you guys have the accessibility to being on a radio or in a magazine. I feel like that’s awesome. And those were some great opportunities for you guys. Absolutely, absolutely. It is. So, Megan, what would you say is your favorite program out of the ones that you currently offer? I would say this doesn’t have anything to do with spay and neuter, but I think my favorite one are the dog and back stiff days. During the spring and summer months, we open our doors to the public and in the back of the shelter will bathe your dog and groom him up. I think they trim the nails in the clinic up front, and then we will dip, plea and kicked it until we do that. And it’s no cost to the public. But we do accept donations, and people are usually really great about doing that, or they’ll come and volunteer instead. We do take volunteers on those days and then up front we have a low cost clinic, so it’s not gonna get you saying neuters, but it will get your animals up. They don’t shot flea and tick treatment, all of those things, and we do those through the whole summer. I think it starts in. They may be and go straight through till September. And that’s probably my funny because you see so many dogs from the community. And then when you do it years in a row, you get to know the people, and then they start coming around and you gain a lot of volunteers that way, and you just get to know a lot of people and all kinds of cute dogs were just tons every day. But it doesn’t make anyone more cuter than the other. I still one of the all the dogs. So yeah, and that one seems like it’s a lot of fun, you know? I definitely think that’s unique. I haven’t heard of an organization putting that on so I can see why. It’s your favorite a lot of. But I mean, we do a lot of really good fundraising and things like that, too. But I just have a lot of fun and it’s on a Saturday and we just been the whole day bathing. And then we get to go through and do it all of our shelter dogs, which is often to definitely, and I think it’s great cause that also come work is like an enrichment for them. They’re kind of getting out there getting wet. They’re getting loved on while they’re getting bathed and they get to look pretty in the process. Yeah, absolutely. Everybody like that, Yeah, and it’s also a great way to get people involved. So you know, that kind of just helps us kind of get a feel for how you guys are and how the people of your community are. And that’s one of the great things about doing these podcasts. So I kind of want to switch gears just a little bit here and kind of just understand a little bit about what are some of the biggest challenges that you guys faces an organization. Honestly, our two biggest challenges would be having enough volunteers. We never have enough help in this kind of rolled over end to our second challenge, which is money funding. So we are grants and donations only, so that makes us function on a pretty low budget, and because of that, I only have five staff members. I’ve got to dog workers to cat workers, and then I have an office worker and one of my cat workers is only part time. So I don’t have a lot of till. We do have some community service workers that the county will send over for us. But volunteers are eggs extremely valuable. We didn’t don’t have enough of that. We don’t have a lot of funding either, which is our second biggest issues that were always meeting food. I mean, I have to buy cat litter and food every week because we’re always running low on those things and then, you know, cleaning supplies. We always run long bleach. We constantly run low on everything, and it’s just because we don’t have the money. So currently, I would say volunteers and help at the shelter and then money would be our two biggest challenges for sure. And I mean, those are definitely valid challenges because I think everybody faces funding issues, you know, not even just front organization. I think just people in general, people don’t really realize what goes into caring for pets, let alone a whole organization filled with pets. And I did notice that you guys have a wish list on your website listed at the top. We sure do Yeah. So if any of our listeners are feeling generous and are kind of picking up on all the great things that Megan is describing for us, please feel free to check that out and donate if you can. So, Megan, when you say that you guys need some volunteers, how many volunteers would you say that you guys have active now? Well, I can name to you two or three volunteers that come on a regular basis, and that’s about once a week or once every two weeks. One of them specifically, she’s kind of an enrichment person, and she comes in and she works with the dogs, hands on and get him out and trains them on. Then we have an actual trainer who comes and volunteers her time. When she’s able and she comes in and works with those animals that kind of need a little extra attention. And then we have a line college student who he comes by probably once a week and just kind of helps out. So we really only have three regular volunteers that if we called, could pretty much drop anything and come along again. He’s not in class, but we do have volunteers to come by once a month, but it’s just when they have time. Yeah, I mean, that list is probably a little bigger. We’ve probably got 10 or 15 of those that maybe show up for an hour at a time here and there when they’re able. We do have a volunteer program. I do offer to schedule volunteers. I certainly could do that with anybody that wanted Toa be regular help with cleaning or help of feeding or help with any of it. I mean, we would be willing to train them in whatever they want it. But we don’t have a lot of people who regularly volunteers. I’m so thankful for the ones we have. We just don’t have many more than that. Are you guys in like a rule area where there’s not a lot of people around? Or is it just something you guys kind of live in that busy area where people just kind of have a lot going on? I’m just trying to kind of get a feel for kind of the number of volunteers you have. If it could be, maybe possibly the location that you guys are around it could be. I’m not sure. We’re certainly aren’t in the biggest city in Arkansas, but great skills where we are. And we have about a population and somewhere between 10 and 11,000 in the city. We have a lot of really small rural towns around us, but you have to drive at least an hour from us to get any other businesses and stuff. So we’re kind of the central hub for the majority of the surrounding the city. So we do have a pretty decent population. I was a but certainly most people come here to work and we’ve got to colleges here, and we’ve got a community college, and then we have a four year college as well. So we do have a lot of college students, and those colleges do a wonderful job of sending a group when they’re able. So we love our colleges, for sure. Yeah, definitely. So how many animals would you guys say that you guys taken at one time? And is it just dogs? Just cats? Won’t you mentioned dogs and cats? But is it just those two specific animals air? Do you guys taken any other types of animals? No, we just take dogs and cats. That’s what we are life for, and that’s really all that we’re able to handle. But, I mean, if somebody has something that they need help with course we know the proper channels to call. If you have any kind of game or anything, we know who to call for those things, Okay? And that’s good, you know? So I’m gonna jump around once more. I noticed that you guys have a bargain hound boutique. Yes, we do. That is our second hand store. Okay, I think it’s on Ramsey Street. Anybody can donate anything over there and all the proceeds from that goes towards the shelter. We don’t have any paid staff. They’re just volunteers on. We have two very wonderful volunteers that work it. And then our secretary of the board, ELISA. She runs the market home, so it’s a great thing. It brings in a good chunk of change for the shelter. That’s awesome. It iss, you know, anything like you had mentioned When it comes to funding, anything helps. And I think it’s great that you guys have something like the boutique to kind of help you guys out and You know, I think that’s great that you guys have something like that toe offer. Yeah, we sure do. We love the bargain held, so I kind of want to talk a little bit about you because you were there is a manager. You’re now the director. Clearly, you have quite a bit of experience in the animal wolf fur industry. Do you have any type of story that kind of lead you to your role or kind of just lead you to the animal Walser industry Overall? I d’oh I wouldn’t say it’s very exciting, but I’ll happily kill it. I was working at a lawyer’s office and I love my job lawyer’s office. It could be a little bit of a high stress job, and I think it just became a bit much for me. And so I decided to try something different, and I happened to see an ad for the Humane Society hiring. I think it was 20 hours for a cat worker, and so about Love cats. I could do that. So I applied and they hired me and doesn’t see. Did is the one that originally started. The shelters have turned to who hired me and the shelter manager there she left and I ended up co managing the shelter with another lady, Gayle that was working with me. And we did that for about a year. And then Gail left and just little old me. So I just kind of took the reins and kind of just started running things and had a blast. Of course, shelter work is always very stressful, but equally rewarding and sometimes more rewarding than it is anything else. Before I worked there, I mean, I had a couple of dogs. I had a husky and a little terrier that we rescued, but my dogs weren’t spade. I wasn’t educated in that. I didn’t understand the importance of nearly shot. I didn’t understand any of that stuff. So I learned a lot very quickly. And once I stalled the impact the shelter had and how many dogs were homeless and all that, I immediately got my animals spayed and took him straight to the event and have been meticulous about it since. But it certainly changed my entire life. Just that one little ad, you know, me just wanting to have ah, a little bit of a lower key schedule turned out to be what I was gonna do for the rest of my life. And I’ve been beyond thankful for that because I love every aspect of my job, even the ones that are hard. I’m still thankful that I get to do that and make a difference. The fact that you found your way to doing something that you absolutely love, it’s inspiring. And I love that you had mentioned at the beginning of the podcast that they had called you back to see if you wanted to fill the director’s position. The mats. Awesome. Clearly, you’re appreciated over there and clearly also, you appreciate the people that you have working with you, so that’s a good foundation for an organization by far. Yeah, I’m so thankful to be back, and it’s made me feel appreciated. Could be after you come back on the fence. Should I keep doing rescue? Should I not, you know, just really what’s right for me. There’s nowhere else really around here, but the Humane society for me to work at. But I can’t go back there. And then they called me and it was just like divine intervention. I guess That’s awesome. So I’m curious to see because you took over this position in September so clearly you’ve had a little bit of time to get your feet wet and kind of see some of the things that you could possibly advance on. What does 2020 look like for your organization? 2020 is looking awesome. So far, our numbers are already up in January from January last year. So that’s wonderful. And our biggest goal this year is finances. We’re trying to get businesses to donate and individuals to donate. And if we can get that up and better standing than what we currently are, 2021 is gonna be incredible. And we’re pretty much focusing on advertisement and education and just getting the word out about the shelters. You’d be surprised. And we’ve been around 2002 but I still have people who have never even heard of us. They didn’t even realize we had a nice body. What happened just the other day? I was out in Pleasant Plains and, like I didn’t even know there was a human. Yeah, we’re here ready to help, so definitely getting the word out and educating the public. You know, the community supports us. We’re only here because the community gives us money. And so we certainly want to give back to them. However we can. I’m taking some classes, get a shelter director certification is shelter management certification. And I’m learning so much through that I’m only three weeks in and I’m already applying things that I’ve learned in that to this, and it’s it’s gonna help us get our adoption numbers out. I’m gonna take a whole course on Children management to hopefully increase the animals Hell’s but also lower our cost to the same time. Let’s just continues. I mean, we have so many things that we’re doing. Yeah, and I think that’s awesome that you guys have a good mind set for 2020 and I can’t wait to check in with you guys here in the next few months to see you know what’s going on and what new programs you might have and everything of that nature. So if any of our listeners live in your area and there are looking to become a volunteer, help you guys out or don’t either or anything of that nature, how can people go about getting involved with. You guys are getting in contact with you guys, so there are multiple ways you could do that. The easiest way is were there seven days a week from seven o’clock in the morning to 5 30 in the evening. There’s always someone there during those hours, and all you have to do is go up to the door and knock on it. If we’re not open, that’s fine. You can still come volunteer, knock on it and we will fill out an application and put you right to work. If you want to come in and kind of get a feel for things, you could do that. First. You can contact us on Facebook. We can e mail you an application, which is basically just your information. And what would you be interested in doing? We don’t really turn anyone away. It’s not so much you’re not really applying to be a volunteer. We’re just getting your information. And then if you want to donate to us again, you know anything that an animal would use. We would, except we do feed mostly Purina. So I believe that that’s what we have on our wish list that we could take anything and again. You don’t have to set a specific time for that. But you can if you want to. You just come by the shelter and drop it off. You can call the shelter if you want them. And more specific, our phone number. There is seven on 308707 on threes. 0090 You can email us at office at HS Icy Shelter dot Ward or just messages on Facebook. Any of those things would be wonderful. We take volunteers seven days a week, anytime or their their cars there. You’re welcome. Great. I think that’s a great thing to provide for our listeners because we do want to get the word out about you guys. And we do want to help in any way that we can. And so providing your information and how somebody can go about getting involved with you is very important to us, you know? So thank you for sharing that. Megan, is there anything else that you would like to share with us today before we wrap things up close? I thank you for the podcast. I mean, we’re trying really hard to reach out to the public and educate that were here and that I knew is important and that we’re here to provide for and support the community. So I just wanna say thank you for giving us an opportunity to reach them in a different way. And a lot of people listen to podcasts or we’re just really thankful that you guys reached out to us to help us with this, of course. And like I had mentioned, we want to try and help you out as best we can and shining light to what you guys were doing. And, you know, kind of inviting people in to see the struggles that you guys are facing because everything is not black and white. Not everything is puppies and rainbows all the time, their struggles every day, and we want to make sure that people know about those things. So that way, if they want to help, they know that the help is welcome, but also to just kind of help motivate people like you guys were doing great word and I definitely think it’s underrated because of the amount of work and heart and emotion and everything that goes into animal welfare. It’s tough. Yeah, it is absolutely so. Megan, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing with us all about the Humane Society of Independence County. You know, we definitely feel for you guys, but we also think that you guys were headed in the right direction and you guys have a lot of good things in your sights. And that’s very positive Thio here. So thank you for joining us. Absolutely. Thank you for having us.
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