"We were more than happy to accommodate them," said Cox, referring to the EVHS. "Pam's been an animal lover forever. In our little place we have in Adairsville, we've had horses. We had some goats. We had some chickens and of course our dogs. It breaks your heart to walk into one of these shelters knowing that some of these animals won't be here tomorrow. ... We had dinner with Bryan and his people at Barnsley Gardens three weeks ago or so and just loved every person that we met.
"Anything that Pam and I can do to help animals, we have a real problem saying, 'No.' It's such a worthy cause. It brings tears to your eyes -- it really does -- to see these animals. It's just a shame that we have to do what we have to do [for] them [as far as fundraisers], but on the other hand, it's rewarding to do what we do to save a bunch of them."
For EVHS Director Bryan Canty, the Coxes' support ideally will "springboard" other residents to become involved in the shelter and promote the spaying and neutering of animals.
"Being able to establish an association and a genuine friendship with the Coxes will mean everything to our organization," Canty said. "It will mean hopefully we can obtain a level of self-sustainability, but more so than that animals' lives will be saved as a result. It's going to be an opportunity for us to create an awareness of the plight of pet overpopulation and to also educate people to responsible pet ownership."
Based on his research, Canty said the euthanization rate in Bartow is higher than that of surrounding counties.
"For the first 12 months that I was here, animal control took in 6,115 and they euthanized, I think, 3,960," said Canty, who joined the EVHS in late June 2010. "[Those numbers are] very high.
"Out of all the counties that were willing to release their statistics, we were the highest," he said, adding among the other counties were Floyd, Cobb, Gwinnett and Fulton. "That's an awful lot of animals that are coming in, and they just don't have the space for it. I hate to say it, but it's irresponsible pet ownership [that is a large part of the problem] -- people not getting their pets spayed and neutered, allowing them to overpopulate and it just creates a burden for this community."
On Sept. 4, South Paw Fan Fest will offer educational and entertaining activities from noon to 6 p.m. at Clarence Brown Conference Center, 5450 State Route 20 in Cartersville. In addition to the Coxes' presence, the event also will feature WBHF radio's Joe Tilley, who will emcee the event; the Braves Street Team; live bands; food; face painting; on-site pet adoptions and low-cost vaccinations; veterinarians discussing responsible pet ownership and how to recognize common animal illnesses; an animal trainer; and a representative from Bartow County Animal Control, who will address pet overpopulation.
While admission is free, money garnered through Cox's photos and autographs -- $50 each -- and the couples' dinner, as well as vendor fees and VIP sponsorships will benefit the EVHS.
Opened in 2006, EVHS' 4,928-square-foot shelter at 36 Ladd's Mountain Road in Cartersville costs about $240,000 per year to manage. The shelter consists of two staff offices, a quarantine room, two visitation rooms, 14 temperature-controlled kennel runs, a cat room with 24 cages and a puppy room with 22 cages.
Since the EVHS is funded solely by private donations, fundraisers and adoption fees, events like the South Paw Fan Fest are integral to its operation.
"Proceeds generated from the event will go toward a new [off-site] quarantine/surgery facility," Canty said. "It will also help to supplement our operating costs as well as contribute to a new flooring project.
"[By having a quarantine/surgery facility] we can intake more animals, and it will also give us the opportunity to quarantine them properly, make sure all of their shots are administered and to ensure that prospective adopters and/or rescue organizations get the healthiest animals possible. That way when they're brought into our shelter, they're not mixed in with the general population and run the risk of possibly infecting our other animals."
For more information about the EVHS and the upcoming fundraiser, visit www.etowahvalleyhumane.org or contact Canty at 770-383-3338.