"The relationship that we've developed with Pam and Bobby Cox, [we look forward to] taking that to the next level [and] getting other high profile people involved. We're working on that," Canty said, adding September's South Paw Fan Fest -- Pinch Hitting for Pets event, which was bolstered by the Coxes' presence, netted about $23,000 for the EVHS. "It's been touch and go for so long. We're right on the cusp of attaining a level of self-sustainability that the organization hasn't enjoyed since it's inception. So all we need is for the community at large to be aware that there are great animals at the shelter. They're not second-class by any means and then just to kind of extend that Buy Bartow [mind-set to] adopt Bartow.
"[Another thing] I want to do is I definitely want to knock down the euthanasia rate in Bartow County, which although we are seeing very good numbers adoptionwise through our shelter, [Bartow County] Animal Control is still experiencing a significant number of animals that are being abandoned, that are strays and are being surrendered by their owners. We need to educate these people on responsible pet ownership and also make the community at large aware of the plight of pet overpopulation in Bartow County."
With two fundraisers in the next three days, the public has the opportunity to support the EVHS through monetary donations. For $20, pet owners can have their furry friends' pictures taken with Santa Claus on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Held at the shelter, 36 Ladd's Mountain Road, the offering requires no reservations to participate.
Then on Monday evening, a drawing will be conducted for a go-cart. Ticketholders do not have to be present to win. In addition to the EVHS, the raffle tickets -- $5 for one ticket and $20 for five -- can be obtained at four Cartersville locations: BodyPlex, 25 Collins Drive; Daryl's Motorcycle Service, 627 N. Tennessee St.; Kelly's Pet Grooming, 707 N. Tennessee St.; and Taylor Farm Supply, 12 Leake St.
Opened in 2006, EVHS' 4,928-square-foot shelter 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 currently is funded solely by private donations, fundraisers and adoption fees, events like Holiday Pet Photos with Santa and the Raffle Ticket Drawing are integral to its operation.
"It goes for operations because we have a lot of costs that we have to incur in order to not only immunize our animals but also treat the ones who suffer from various maladies that can affect animals in shelters, not to mention that we need to keep the lights on as well," Canty said. "Because, if our doors close, then how many animals will be lost?
"In October, we did 82 adoptions, which had beaten our previous total by 18, which was 64. That's the most that we've done since I've been on board the last 18 months. And if you also include the 68 animals that went to rescue organizations, that was a total of 150 lives saved that month," he said, adding through the upcoming benefits he hopes people will "meet the staff" and view the "overall selection of great, homeless pets."
Echoing Canty's comments, EVHS Board Member Linda Parnes complimented the quality of animals housed at the shelter and their ability to enhance a future pet owner's life.
"We have the most beautiful animals in the state of Georgia and we have way too many. They have so many gifts to share with families," Parnes said. "They would absolutely be the best thing that you could do for your family for Christmas or at any other time of the year. They just give back so much. ... Our animals here are so beautiful and we have so little time with them. We get so many in and, of course, incoming animals go to Animal Control and then they come over to us.
"They hold them for seven days to give their owners time to find them, reclaim them. And if that doesn't happen, then they come to us for adoption. But if we're full, I can't take any in. So that means that our beautiful, young, healthy animals with so much to give, that [they] are dying because nobody's even seen them. ... Over the years, I've always gotten my animals from a shelter," she said, adding if someone is adopting a pet for another person, they should bring the recipient along or purchase a gift certificate. "They've just been the best animals. They seem to know that you rescued them and half the time I'm thinking, 'You know, you guys rescued me.' So it's such a giving thing to do."
With a significant number of animals arriving at Bartow County Animal Control, Canty said the shelter's mission is an ongoing effort.
"The outpouring of support from our community has been great but we still can't be complacent and rest on our laurels," Canty said. "It's going to take a concerted effort from this point forward to make sure that people do the things that they need to do in terms of spaying and neutering their animals, keeping them immunized against the diseases that can adversely affect them. And just come on out and be aware that we are an adoption facility. We are not an intake. The animals that we see in our facility will find homes, whether be it through adoption or going to a rescue organization or to a transport. We are not putting animals down in our facility.
"By true definition there's only one no-kill shelter in the entire United States. We don't euthanize on the premises. The only time that we will ever have an animal put down is if they get extremely ill, if they get a bad disease or if we see signs of aggression from being in the shelter, but that's rare. We'll generally try to find rescue organizations that can take [animals that have been at the shelter for a long time] but I am proud to say that I think we only have one dog that's been there more than 90 days and that's the target that we're working on is to try to be able to get everything cleared out inventorywise every 90 days."
For more information about the EVHS and its upcoming fundraisers, visit www.etowahvalleyhumane.org or call 770-383-3338.