To help curb the issue of pet overpopulation, Etowah Valley Humane Society was awarded a $3,000 grant. Announced by Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black Aug. 24, $425,000 in grants were dispersed to 71 animal rescue organizations and state licensed animal shelters.
"I was elated," EVHS Director Bryan Canty said, referring to learning the nonprofit earned the grant funding. "Anytime you receive a grant — funds that you don't have to pay back is a plus, especially what this grant is being intended [for]. This will help us be able to offset some of our spay/neuter costs as well as possibly being able to subsidize some low-cost, spay-neuter [clinics] in our community.
"We're a small nonprofit, 501(c)(3) in a small town, So funds are critical. Everything helps. We can't do what we do without the assistance of those who support the animal welfare cause, and that means [Georgia] Department of Agriculture, the numerous volunteers and other rescue organizations' volunteers, transporters. ... It's a collaboration."
In August 2016, EVHS celebrated its 20th year of operating as a nonprofit. Established in the mid-1990s as the Bartow County Humane Society, the organization changed its name to Etowah Valley Humane Society in 2006, the same year it opened the 4,928-square-foot shelter at 36 Ladds Mountain Road. The facility consists of two staff offices, a quarantine room, two visitation rooms, temperature-controlled kennel runs, a cat room with about 24 cages, a puppy room with more than 20 cages, outdoor kennel runs and an on-site dog park.
According to a news release from the Georgia Department of Agriculture, "This is the fourth set of grants to be issued through the Dog and Cat Sterilization Program, which is funded by the purchase of the Dog and Cat Sterilization Auto Tag, income tax checkoff and from direct contributions to the program. Since inception, the Dog and Cat Sterilization Program has been utilized to sexually alter over 100,000 companion animals. The future of the program is now much more optimistic thanks to the restoration of full funding during the 2018 Legislative Session. As it stands now, $19 from the $25 purchase of a new plate and $20 of the $25 renewal is appropriated toward the program.
"Grants range from $2,500 to $140,000 each and were awarded based on the highest priority after considering factors, such as targeting of important animal populations, ability to increase surgery numbers, cost-benefit ratio, record of grant applicant and sustainability."
Underscoring the present situation, Canty said if the pet overpopulation were a virus, it would be designated a "pandemic."
"Pet overpopulation in this area — it's horrendous. There's just folks that don't understand how important it is," Canty said, referring to spaying and neutering dogs and cats. " Let's just be honest, unless you're breeding show animals, what reason do you have for your pets to procreate? None. It only adds to the problem.
"I can't tell you how many phone calls I get from people who have had pets wander up in their yard. They're feeding them. They've named them, and now they're on their second or third litters before they want to try and seek assistance. It's just a terrible, terrible problem. And it doesn't look like it's going away anytime soon."