One local woman is on a mission to save the lives of as many animals as possible.
Denver resident Jena Healy is leading a grassroots effort, aligned with the No Kill Advocacy Center’s nationwide movement, to urge local leaders to make the Lincoln County Animal Shelter a no-kill facility.
To qualify as such, shelters must have a live-release rate of 90 percent or more. The county’s rate is somewhere around half of that, according to figures Healy has gathered.
She first presented her request before the Board of Commissioners about a year ago.
“When they were unresponsive, I chose to get as educated as I could about what is involved,” she said.
This past February, she attended a national “No Kill” seminar in Austin, and has now brought the issue to local residents.
Just over a month ago, she held a meeting for area citizens to learn more about the cause.
“About 30 people attended that meeting, all positive, all supportive,” she said.
Since then, the local movement has garnered more than 300 “likes” on Facebook and an email list of roughly 75 names.
The group is having a second informational meeting from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Jonas Library in downtown Lincolnton.
“My goal is to have a support network of volunteers in place to present to the shelter and commissioners again and to ask them to please stop the unnecessary killing of adoptable and treatable animals,” Healy said. “If the community is willing to get their hands dirty, then the shelter and the elected officials should be willing to do their part.”
After Saturday’s meeting, she hopes to set up a discussion with local leaders within 30 days to present a plan of action detailing how no-kill shelters are a feasible option, through increased spaying and neutering efforts, adoption programs, foster care for animals, more volunteers, rescue partnerships and pet retention.
The national organization also provides grassroots leaders with information on the economic benefits of no-kill shelters to present to officials.
“There are about 80,000 residents in Lincoln County, and the shelter handled roughly 4,500 animals last year,” a flier announcing the group’s meeting states. “There are enough homes; we just need to get the animals exposure.”
Changing the fate of local shelter animals may be easier said than done, however.
While some states have made significant headway implementing the movement’s initiatives, North Carolina isn’t one of them.
David Workman, manager of Lincoln County Animal Services, said the issue has never come up for an official vote.
Previous discussions on making the shelter a no-kill facility have taken place, he said, but “it was decided for LCAS to continue in the direction that we are going.”
“This was based upon information that there are no municipal ‘No Kill’ shelters in North Carolina,” he added. “Our efforts to get as many animals out alive have been improving.”
For more information on the local movement, visit: www.makelincolncountynokill.org.