Animal Shelter of the Week: Episode 61 – Humane Society of Morgan County

Humane Society of Morgan County

Founded in 1994, the Humane Society began as a group of dedicated individuals committed to saving animal lives in Morgan County. Moving into their adoption center in 2014 has allowed the HSMC to save even more lives. The HSMC adopts more than 400 dogs and cats into loving homes every year. With their dedicated staff, caring volunteers, and the support of people like you, they hope to continue to improve the lives of animals. The Humane Society of Morgan County’s mission is to save more animal’s lives by promoting adoptions of healthy, friendly companion animals obtained from overcrowded animal control facilities and owner surrenders. Their goal is to provide the highest quality care and compassion to the animals entrusted into our care until such time as they are adopted. It is also their mission to measurably reduce the pet overpopulation numbers through the promotion of spay/neuter programs and community education. In 2019 they helped 432 animals find their fur-ever homes! They have the capacity to house 80 animals and they usually stay right below capacity. They average about 36 adoptions a month and intake about 35 animals a month. They are blessed to be in such a supportive community!


Website: http://www.humanemorgan.org/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/humanemorgan/“Welcome to the Animal Shelter of the Week podcast, where we feature outstanding organizations from around the country, that are helping animals and the people who rescue them. This podcast is proudly sponsored by Doobert.com. Doobert connects animal shelters with volunteers to do animal transport and fostering. Learn more and sign up for free at www.doobert.com. Let’s meet this week’s featured Animal Shelter.

 The Humane Society of Morgan County was founded in 1994 by a group of dedicated individuals committing to saving the lives of animals. Their mission is to save more animal lives by promoting the adoption of healthy, friendly companion animals, obtained from overcrowded animal control facilities and owner surrenders. In 2014 the HSMC moved into their new adoption center, which has allowed them to save even more lives.

 Hi, Miranda. Welcome to the show. Hi, Kimberly. How are you? I’m doing well. Hopefully you are doing good in this whole world crisis right now. Yes, we’re doing well. Good. So you are the director of operations at the Humane Society of Morgan County in Georgia. Is that right? Definitely. Perfect. Can you tell me a little bit more about your organization and how you got started there? A little bit of our organization. We are a humane society and we’re 501C3 nonprofit and we save animals from euthanization. We go to rescue them from animal control facilities. And also we take in owner surrenders, when we can, not all the time. We try to help out our community. But I do that and I got started here, I was actually a store manager for a corporate shoe company, corporate shoe store company, and I was there for nine years and I wanted to find somewhere closer to home. And one day the assistant director job opening came up on my Facebook, while I was scrolling on a Sunday and I decided to apply because I love animals. I had fostered animals for a different humane society before, when I was younger and I do have that manager background. So I decided that that’s what I wanted to do, to stay closer to my children, at home.

 Oh, good. Isn’t that funny how you start in a completely different profession and then it just kind of just switches, you know, I find that awesome, that’s good. I mean, it was almost like it was destined to happen. You sit down, you scroll through Facebook and boom, there it is. Yeah, that’s it exactly. Like when I saw it, I was like, this is almost too good to be true. But let me try it and see. I did a whole resume that night and sent it in the next day, and they were like, No, we want you. How awesome is that? And the fact that you volunteered and fostered before, you know, in this industry in general, that’s awesome. You kind of already have that, somewhat background, of how these organizations kind of function, even though each one of them are slightly different. Yeah. Now, how have you been there by chance? Actually, on the 30th of this month will be a year. Alrighty.

 So can you share with us a little bit about what the community is like in your area? Some of us, personally me, I’ve never been to Georgia. I hear it’s very pretty, but I’ve never been there. So can you, could you just share with us a little bit about what your community looks like and what it’s like for the animals in your area? We are a small town. We have, like a historical district. We are not very far from Atlanta. We’re about an hour away from Atlanta, and we’re right off of the major interstate connecting us to, like between Atlanta, Georgia and invested Georgia. But we’re kind of a small town. I think the populations right around 19 or 20,000 and we have a very supportive community. We’re sitting right here, close to a major lake community. In our area, we have like, two lakes in Middle Georgia and it’s a very nice place to live. Very nice place for animals to live as well, because everybody is just about taking care of their animals around here. Course there’s always those stray or mistreated and neglected. And our animal control for the city and for the county, are very closely networked, with multiple rescues in our area, including us. Okay, so it kind of, just has one animal control that handles everything. And then, like you said, they work with different rescues, and that’s kind of how it goes or are there multiple animal controls? In our county, there’s one for the city, and then there’s one for the county and we actually have three different rescue groups, maybe four, actually, in our county. And we get animals from all of the surrounding areas, different counties. We even go to North Georgia and South Georgia. Sometimes when there are, you know, that need to go down there to rescue certain animals. 

So I noticed that when you were talking about your organization that you guys rescue animals from, you know, animal control and also owner surrenders. Is that the only way that you take in animals? Yes, we are not allowed, since we’re not an animal control facility, we don’t have animal control officers. It’s actually illegal for us to take in stray animals or abandoned animals. That’s good to know. And kind of let you know, the people of your community know that. That’s awesome. I mean, it’s not awesome that you can’t take them, but it’s awesome that you, you know, you guys kind of make people aware of that. Yeah.

 Okay. Do you kind of have any stipulations when it comes to owner surrenders? I know that you said that you, on occasion, will take an owner surrender. Right. I guess, kind of share with me a little bit about how you guys kind of go about that. Is it more of, like a space thing or how does that work? Yeah, it’s mainly about space. We only have 80. Say only. I mean, it’s kind of a big facility for our area. We have room for up to 80 animals here. I think about half and half, you know, 40 dogs and 40 cats. When someone wants to surrender an animal here when he, you know, try to see if we have space for them, usually if it’s a larger dog, we don’t have space because there are so many large dogs in need of homes, we try to keep our large dog full. We could only house about 16 that are large or considered a larger breed. So we’re usually full of large dogs. We try to get as many out of animal control as possible to, you know, save them from euthanization. Also, we try to consider, you know, their medical condition and their age. And if we would be able to facilitate the needs of the animals that they’re trying to surrender. You know that definitely makes sense. You want to make sure that you can handle the situation and everything like that. Hard.

 Do you guys put on any type of programs? Either for the community, just like events and fundraiser type things? What does that look like for you guys? Oh, gosh, we try to have a fundraiser at least once or twice a month. Sometimes, you know, we try to have at least two or three big events a year, for people to come to. This year was our first year having our Paws and Purrs Winter Gala, in January, and we did raise over $25,000 for that event. That was without paying the expenses, of course. And then we try to have an event in the summer, where people can come and hang out at our facility. It’s just sometimes, that’s just more of an awareness event and an appreciation event, more than it is a fundraiser. And we are also trying to have another big fundraiser in the summer. Of course, this year it’s kind of looking like we may not be able to do that, but we do try to have other small events. And we do like a community mail out, where we mail out letters to the previous donors and the Chamber of Commerce. The businesses in our area that we know that will, you know, usually donate to us, so that we can keep taking care of our animals here. That’s definitely something, but I’ve never heard of too. That’s pretty unique that you guys kind of do you know, the community mail out. Other organizations are probably doing it, but I’ve actually never heard of that. So that’s actually really cool. Yeah, that’s really cool that you guys do that.

 So are these big like, Paws and Purrs, Winter Gallas. That’s something I might have missed it, but is that something you guys do yearly or,  This year was our first year. We do plan on making it an annual event because it was very successful. We have a silent auction at that event, and it’s a dinner and we have music, a live band or a DJ. I think this last time we had a DJ, but, you know, we want to try to get a live band. It was at a brewery this year and it was pet friendly, so it was really cool that everybody had to bring their own pets and everybody was so thrilled that they could bring their dog. It was awesome. That does, that sounds awesome. I’ve noticed that the breweries and wineries and everything are becoming like a hit thing with the animal welfare industry. A lot of people are doing, you know, all these different events, wine tasting, stuff like that. But it’s cool because they’re always friendly, and those types of events actually really seem to turn out extremely well. So I don’t know. Mixing booze and animals seems to do the trick. You know, the people that are donating, they like to drink so we try to facilitate that, if we can. Well, I mean, it’s a good time, you know, moderate. It’s fun. And, you know, the fact that they can include their animals, just makes it that much better, you know? So that’s awesome. Yeah, And we actually had an opportunity for that since it was at a brewery. We provided the shuttle so nobody had to drive. Well, that sounds fun. It was. It was great. I’m definitely jealous that I’m not there. I would totally go. That’s what we want. We want people to be able to come and want to come. Just have fun. That was all in fun. Good. Well, I’m happy to hear that you guys put on events like that to gather the people of your community and everything. It seems like you guys have a very supportive community, and that’s always a huge plus. Yeah, we’re very blessed to be where we are and to have the community members that we have that help us every year. Yeah.

 So what would you say is your organization’s biggest challenge right now? I know that that’s kind of a tough question because, you know, if the whole COVID19 pandemic. But besides that, what is something that your organization struggles with? Without it being, you know, the COVID19 restrictions that everyone is under right now, the biggest challenge that the animals in our care face, is that humans either can’t provide for them or they don’t want to keep their animals anymore, or they’re having to move. And, you know, we try to do our best to be a resource for anybody that is wanting to rehome their pets, and we try to offer advice on how they can keep their pets or take better care of their pets, through low-cost programs, that are offered in our area and in the surrounding areas. Okay, so that’s probably why you guys have the owner surrender issues that you guys have, cause that seems to be a pretty big challenge that definitely ties those two together. Yeah, and another challenge that we face in funding our facility and the many expenses that come along with taking care of the animals. We do have a great board of directors and advisory boards that are wonderful and that create fundraisers and events for awareness, throughout the year. And we’re funded on donations and grants only. So we’re not funded by the government at all, and that’s where we have to get our money from. It’s from people that are willing to donate to us. Yeah, definitely. You know, that’s a struggle everywhere. It’s a tough one, and it’s hard to overcome. But I also think it’s a good challenge to have because then, you know, you guys actually put on those events and the fundraisers, they go to good use, you know, they’re for the funding and unfortunately, it’s hard because with an event or a fundraiser, comes money being put into it. But it’s good to have those and it’s good to involve your community and stuff like that. Right. It can’t all be just work, work, work. We have to have some playing time too. So it’s always awesome to be able to do that and be involved with the animals, too. It’s great. Exactly, and it comes hand in hand. You know, you gotta make it fun for them and provide enrichment for the animals because that’s what you guys are working towards, but also provide enrichment for the people of your community, to help him get involved.

 But it seems like you guys have a good handle on that with the events that you guys put on and everything. How has the COVID19 pandemic affected you guys in your area? Right now we are trying to make it easier for people to adopt. Come up here make an appointment to, you know, either meet the animal or adopt the animal that they’re interested in. We’re only, you know, making one appointment per hour, and it’s hard for people to understand that we’re not open to the public right now. But we’re slowly but surely, seeing less and less people just show up at the door and then pretty much get the word out, that we want them to make appointments. And we’ve also had to cancel some events. We had a Bark for Life event that we were going to be putting on in March and a 4K, also along with that. Yeah, So a lot of the people that had signed up, you know, they signed up to walk a shelter dog during the 4K. And so some of those dogs didn’t get walked. So what we did was instead of having the event, we did t-shirt sales instead of the actual, you know, going to the event. And then when somebody signed up for the event, we actually had, like, a Doggie Goodie Bag that we’re gonna include with the T shirt, so that we could still kind of entertain the person and their dog, even though we don’t get to see them and have an interaction. But that’s creative. You kind of took that bad thing of having to cancel and kind of just spun it around and still made it fun and engaging for the people that were going to be participating. That’s awesome. I like that.

 I think this whole pandemic I think it’s tough on everybody. But it’s tougher on the organizations that are in the animal world and for our industry. I mean, you guys can’t just pick up and leave your facilities, you know? I mean, there’s animals and because I’m assuming that you guys have volunteers that come in and help out around the shelter. How does that kind of happen right now? Are you guys still, are only a few of you that are volunteering there, working right now? Or how is that going for you guys? We have regular staff daily that have to take care of the animals, and we are allowing one volunteer for dogs and one volunteer for cats, to come. That means there’s less than 10 people in the building. We’re within the guidelines, we’re within the limits that we’re restricted to, and yeah, it’s hard. But, you know, you have to let everybody know, we can’t be all around each other right now. That’s definitely tough, and I don’t think a lot of people realize that, right now. You know that a facility that functions with staff members and volunteers, you know, to kind of get everything done. I mean, try to have two people take care of a dog, just say, I don’t know how many you guys have in your care currently, but if you said 80 as your max, I mean, that’s a lot of animals to care for, with only a few people there helping out. Thankfully, we have had a lot of our dogs go to foster homes, and we had a pickup in adoptions in the last two weeks. That has been amazing, and we are not at full capacity, in any means. We actually only have about seven small dogs. They’re all puppies. And then I think we have about 12 large dogs and we have about six cats. And it’s getting harder and harder to find dogs that I can even go find from the animal shelters right now, cause all of the animal shelters are bare. This time, right now, with the whole pandemic has brought, it’s almost shocking, you know, it’s brought good in some areas, bad in others and it’s definitely sending everybody in a whirlwind. for sure. There have been days here where we didn’t know if we were gonna come to work next week or not because of what’s being decided with our local and state governments. So we’re very blessed, and we’re thankful to be able to be here and still take care of the animals that are here. Absolutely. And that’s, you know, a good way to look at things, right now.

 You know Miranda, I’m kind of curious, you’ve been with this organization for about a year now. How would you see that this organization has changed over the year that you’ve been there? Not too terribly much. It hasn’t changed a lot. We have had our ups and downs as far as trying to find animals’ homes. There were a few months there where adoptions had slowed down, right before Christmas, and I didn’t know how it’s gonna turn out for the end of the year, and it turned out pretty good, but not as good as we wanted it to be. Of course, we wanted to be able to save more lives, but it’s so unpredictable. I think it’s good that, you know, you’re on top of everything and nothing’s kind of changed. And that’s a good thing. That means that you guys have a routine and you guys are, if you guys were making it work and that’s always good, you know?

 So Miranda, share something with us, a memorable story, like what got you into saving animals? Was that something that you grew up with, animals? So you knew that caring for them was important or, you know, just kind of give us a little bit of background as to why you chose the profession that you’re in. I’ve always loved cats. It’s kind of crazy cat child, I guess you would say. I was fostering animals with the humane society. You know. I used to bottle feed kittens that we’ve always had animals, more dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens. My dad had a fish tank that he put fish in. We had snakes and turtles and lizards. You name it, well, we’ve probably taken care of it. I remember in sixth grade, I decided I wanted to be a veterinarian. And, of course, life changed and that didn’t happen. And I did get to work for a veterinary hospital for about a year and I was an assistant for a little while and I loved it. But, you know, life took me down a different path and I just didn’t get back into it, in a professional way. But I’ve always been able to save lives, you know, off the side of the road or, you know, trying to help people find their pets or try to help people find a pet that wanted a pet. And trying to find homes for other pets that, you know, were homeless and just networking with Animal Controls, with Humane Societies and Rescue groups. I have always been able to communicate with those types of places. So I always knew that I was gonna have something to do with animals. And that’s good. I mean, oh, my goodness, you have a ton of pets. You know, that’s awesome. I mean, sneaks and oh, man, you just kind of have the works there didn’t you? Yeah, we always had something along. It was never a dull moment. But that’s good because you know it helps you to understand as a child and everything. You know, the importance of animal welfare and everything of that nature, and that’s something personally, that I’m huge on. So I think that’s cool. 

And you know how ironic that you didn’t become a veterinarian. But you did land in a really awesome position where you still get to work with the animals and give them a better life. I really think this might be a better position for me. I mean, I really love it. I don’t have a problem with it at all. And that’s good. If you love what you do, you continue to do it. You know, that’s what we need, right? That’s what everybody needs. Especially in this industry. If you love what you do, you save more lives. Exactly. You have a passion for it, and you want to keep doing it. You really think sometimes that your heart is full and you can’t love anymore. But then you meet another dog, and you’re like, Oh, my gosh.

 Now, I didn’t ask you this before, but you take in dogs and cats. Does the organization take in anything else or just those two? Just dogs and cats. Okay. You always have enough abundance for the most part, especially in the cat area. Oh, yeah.

 Well, I love that you join me today. I love learning more about you and about your organization if anybody and right now I know COVID19 kind of affecting everything. But if afterward, if you have anybody in the area or anybody listening to this podcast that wants to get involved with your organization, whether it’s to volunteer or donate, how can they get in contact with you? What’s the best way they can go about that? So there are several ways, we have our own website. It’s www.humanemorgan.org. We have our Facebook page and you can message us on Facebook. We try to respond to it, at least you know, two or three times a day and it’s Facebook/HumaneMorgan/. And our email is info I N F O @ HumaneMorgan.org and our phone number is 7063439977. And if anybody wants to view any of the adoptable animals we have, we are on Petfinder. And if you just look at Morgan County or if you look up Madison Georgia, you can find us, our animals on Petfinder, and then we’re also about to be on Finding Rover. It’s new. I want to say, they go through Petfinder, for us, and it is where you can look at adoptable animals. And then you can also register your animals on there, in case they are ever lost or if they are ever found and it goes by facial recognition, it is really cool. They just got in touch with us a couple of weeks ago, and we haven’t tried it. It’s not live yet for us, like as far as if someone wanted to search our pets, but it will be pretty soon I mean it. Maybe live in the next couple of weeks.

 Well, I’m gonna check that out. I never heard of that, and I’m actually pretty intrigued by it. Yeah, you should check it out. It’s really awesome. And like I said, if you just as a user, like a pet owner, you could go on there and put your pet there, in case they get lost or in case someone finds them, they try to reunite pet owners by facial recognition is really cool. I think that’s a good way to help people who have lost their animals and stuff like that. 

Well, Miranda, I’ve enjoyed chatting with you. Do you have anything else that you would like to share with us today before we wrap things up? I think that’s all I’ve got. And I appreciate you guys reaching out and letting us be a part of this. Of course, we’re happy to have you. And, you know, ultimately, we’re excited to be able to learn more about different organizations and how different things are from state to state and even sometimes city to city, within a state. It’s absolutely eye-opening. And I love being able to chat with you guys and especially, I like learning about you as an individual and how you got started with the organization. And it’s a fun time, and I’ve enjoyed having you. Awesome. We appreciate and I appreciate you. Thank You so much.

Thank you so much. Thanks for tuning into today’s podcast. If you’re not already a Dooberteer, sign up for free at www.doobert.com. At Doobert, we know that together we can save more animals.”

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