“I develop a relationship down there with every single animal at animal control,” Granai said Tuesday. “I go down and hand out treats. So within a few days, even the ones that come in terrified, they greet me like they’re my own animals. So I really get an attachment to them even though that’s probably not the smartest thing to do, because I know I’m always going to lose some.
“But because I fall in love with these guys, I just commit my whole self to it. Like this morning, everybody knew that I was having kind of a rough day with getting rescues out yesterday and I woke up this morning and I logged into my Facebook page. There were people [from rescue groups and others] ... [who] have adopted from the rescues that have gotten animals out from [animal control] and they were posting ... [to] show me that the heartache’s worth it.”
With the number of rescues topping 1,800, the EVHS — along with its 516 adoptions — was able to surpass its overall “lives saved” goal of 2,000 last year.
Opened in 2006, EVHS’ 4,928-square-foot shelter is located at 36 Ladds Mountain Road in Cartersville. The facility consists of two staff offices, a quarantine room, two visitation rooms, 14 temperature-controlled kennel runs, a cat room with 24 cages, a puppy room with 22 cages and seven outdoor kennel runs. Adoption fees are $175 for dogs and $125 for cats.
“When we initially set a goal of 2,000 lives saved, we thought that was something obtainable based on the numbers we put up for 2012. [Our] previous best year was 1,738 lives [and] in 2013 we saved 2,407,” said EVHS Director Bryan Canty, adding last year’s achievement was a 291 percent increase since 2010 — when he joined the nonprofit. “So we really blew past the ceiling of what we thought we were capable of saving.
“We knew we were onto something when we eclipsed the previous year’s total back in August. Then we crested 2,000 in October. So at that point it was just a matter of seeing just how high can we go. So, of course, at the end of the year it was just an amazing feeling knowing that you had that significant of an impact on the number of lives saved in Bartow County.”
For Canty, a variety of factors led to EVHS’ success last year, some of which include the staff’s hard work, an increased Facebook presence and the ability of photographer Pamela Doughty — who volunteers her time — to capture the personality of each animal for people to view on the nonprofit’s online sites.
“[This is a result of] the concerted effort on the part of the staff, just everybody working together to be as diligent as they can and putting the health and well-being of animals first and foremost,” Canty said. “I should also mention that it’s been the tenacity of our rescue coordinator Jan Granai.
“She is just relentless in her efforts to save the lives [of animals]. She has a Facebook page where she’ll post her urgent albums and those are crossed posted to rescue organizations nationwide and it’s shared amongst them. You just can’t even really fathom the impact that her efforts have had in terms of saving lives.”
To further the nonprofit’s endeavors, Granai visits Bartow County Animal Control every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, selecting dogs and cats to transfer to EVHS’ shelter and paving the way for others to be saved through rescue organizations.
“It is [rewarding],” Granai said. “For me, they’re not numbers. They’re faces and they’re hearts. I can see pictures of animals that we got out from down there three years ago and I still remember that animal. So it’s not about numbers, it’s about lives and about quality of life. ... I go [to animal control] on Monday, I go on Tuesday and I go on Wednesday. Mondays, I’m down there while we’re selecting what animals we can bring here to the humane society and at 3:30 [p.m.] Monday I have to have commitments on the ones that we can’t pull and bring here. I have to have firm commitments from rescues.
“So by 4 o’clock, I know who down there is going to get out and who’s not. So I go down usually around 4 and I hand out treats and give love to everybody I know who’s not going to make it, which is heartbreaking but I feel like they’re owed that. Then on Tuesday ... usually I’m down there with rescues coming in to pick up animals and then I’m down there most of the day on Wednesday with rescues coming in,” she said, adding Bartow County Animal Control euthanizes animals every Tuesday. “Then I go over on Wednesday afternoon and I take photos of every animal whose time is going to be up the following Monday. And then I go home and post them to my Facebook rescue page and that’s how we get these rescues done.”
The EVHS’ ability to save 2,407 animals in 2013, Canty said, helped drop the euthanasia rate in Bartow County to below 50 percent, compared to previous years when it approached 90 percent. According to EVHS data, last year Bartow County Animal Control took in 5,989 animals and euthanized 2,828 for a 47 percent euthanasia rate.
“When someone adopts at the shelter they’re actually saving two lives — the animal they just adopted and the animal that we’re able to bring over [from Bartow County Animal Control] in that animal’s place at the shelter,” Canty said. “So people need to be made aware of that. But when you have such a proliferation of unwanted animals in an area, to me it’s incumbent upon those in the community to help alleviate that problem, that is to spay and [neuter or adopt] from shelters. You buy [an animal] from a breeder or from a puppy mill, you’re really not helping the severe problem that we have in this area.”
Echoing Canty’s comments, Bartow County Animal Control Assistant Director Tommy Gentry is delighted to now have the opportunity to prolong the lives of animals housed at his worksite.
“The more [the humane society transfers], the less we have to euthanize,” Gentry said. “Nobody down here likes euthanizing. It’s a sad part of the job, but we have to do it. ... [The humane society’s success with adoptions and rescues] allows us to keep a lot of the better animals that you really feel deep down [are] adoptable [but] they just take a little bit more time. We’re able to save some of them ... because with [the humane society] moving out as much as they do, it just gives us space and room to be able to hold them longer.”
For more information about the EVHS, visit www.etowahvalleyhumane.org or call 770-383-3338. The EVHS’ shelter is open to the public Wednesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.