The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 25, 2012

Jo Ellis: Carthage Humane Society making significant strides

By Jo Ellis
Globe Columnist

CARTHAGE, Mo. — We are approaching the time of year when it is critical for our four-legged family members to have a warm, safe home. The Carthage Humane Society is doing all it can to make that a reality for abandoned and homeless pets, regardless of where they came from or where they are going.

Glenda Erwin, director of the shelter for the past two years, said local adoptions, as well as a transport program, are making it possible to find homes for more and more homeless animals and to reduce the need for euthanasia.

While there is still a disparity between the number of dogs and cats brought to the shelter and the number going out, the gap seems to be narrowing, and those that remain in the shelter are well provided for.

Rescue Waggin’, a program sponsored by PetSmart Charities, is largely responsible, Erwin said. The program matches animals from shelters with a high population count (largely in the Southern states) to shelters that are looking for adoptive pets. Those normally are in the Northern states, the East Coast, the West Coast and Canada.

The Carthage Humane Society is one of only 58 shelters nationwide to qualify to participate in the transport program. Staff members are required to have special training, and every animal must be healthy, immunized, and spayed or neutered.

In October, Erwin said, an Arkansas shelter brought in 28 dogs that were transported to a Minnesota shelter that found homes for all of them. This month, Rescue Waggin’ asked the local shelter to transport 14 dogs to a prison program in Lansing, Kan., that arranges adoptions. Sometimes it is a group that specializes in rescuing specific breeds that asks for the Carthage Humane Society’s help.

A veterinarian visits the shelter three times a week, and with the help of eight full-time and part-time staff members assesses the behavior of each animal and makes sure it is spayed or neutered and has its shots.

“The health of our animals is out of sight,” Erwin said. “We have to do some euthanasia, but not a whole lot. We only do it if they are vicious or so sick they can’t be helped.” She estimated that the number of prevented pregnancies in shelter animals “runs into the millions,” thanks to the spaying and neutering program.

A small fee helps cover the cost of vet care and “room and board.” Otherwise, the shelter operates on donations, grants “and a few prayers here and there,” Erwin said. “Somehow we manage to stay afloat.”

An annual membership costs $25; a member drive will begin in January. But fundraising is also a necessity. The board has held taco dinners, and a chili and dessert dinner is slated for 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 15 at Carthage Memorial Hall.

“Carthage people need to realize there is an animal shelter out here,” Erwin said. “This is not like the old one. They need to look and see the changes that were made.”

She said that Todd Cramer, PetSmart Charities supervisor, made an annual site visit recently, and was complimentary on the cleanliness of the shelter and the goals achieved within the past year.

ADDRESS CORRESPONDENCE to Jo Ellis, c/o The Joplin Globe, Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email news@joplinglobe.com.