A local grassroots group aimed at making the Lincoln County Animal Shelter a no-kill facility recently started a nonprofit to further its cause in both reducing the shelter’s homeless animal population and increasing adoption numbers.
“We are doing all the steps of the no-kill equation,” Jena Healy said.
Healy serves as board president of the new nonprofit, Helping Animals to Survive (HATS).
She said, currently, Polk County operates the only no-kill shelter in North Carolina.
Healy and various other volunteers with the grassroots organization, Make Lincoln County No Kill (MLKNK), established HATS in early December, one month after the group convinced county commissioners that the area shelter should stop sending hundreds of animals to their death each year, Healy said.
She noted the group’s no-kill philosophy does not include putting a stop to euthanasia at the facility, but rather, ending the killing of “healthy, adoptable animals.”
HATS currently has over 100 volunteers and a dozen foster homes.
“We are very eager to make a significant impact on saving the lives of homeless animals in Lincoln County,” Healy said in a HATS press release issued late Tuesday afternoon.
In addition to cats and dogs, the nonprofit is willing to rescue and provide for a variety of animal types including guinea pigs and rabbits.
“We are happy to help anything,” Healy said.
Other than trapping, fostering and fixing animals as methods of keeping the animal count down at LCAS — which HATS will operate independently of — the nonprofit group plans to implement barn cat and pet retention programs.
“We will make contact with different farmers and barns in the county and place cats there that are feral and domesticated,” Healy said.
She noted the difference between strictly feral felines and those capable of surviving as outside pets.
“Some cats are never going to be house cats,” she said, “but aren’t completely wild.”
HATS also wants to assist those pet owners who can simply no longer afford to care for an animal due to grooming, food and medical expenses.
Healy said most reasons for relinquishing an animal are fixable and that the program will address such common issues, hopefully allowing a number of owners to “hold on to their animals.”
Because HATS will not receive county funding, it must rely on fundraising efforts, donations, sponsorships and grants to operate.
“We are ready to move forward in full force,” Healy said in the release.
For more information on HATS and its upcoming kick-off party on Feb. 1, visit HATSALIVE.org.