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Chattahoochee Humane Society shelter director Shon Sims and board member John Radford (on the left) were guests of the Kiwanis Club of Valley and talked about the local animal shelter’s current needs. The CHS board is looking to expand the current shelter from 16 kennels to 31. They are looking for volunteers to help them with this. --Wayne Clark

Asking for Volunteers: Radford speaks on Chattahoochee Humane Society

VALLEY — As a board member of the Chattahoochee Humane Society, John Radford is fighting a perception that the local animal shelter is mostly a killing machine.

“There are people out there who think that all we do is kill animals. That is not true,” he told members of the Kiwanis Club of Valley during Wednesday’s noon hour luncheon meeting. “We do all we can to have every dog or cat adopted or taken by a rescue organization. It’s a very hard day for us when we have to euthanize animals. We do it on Tuesdays. We have staff members who cry and have to take off half the day because of it.  Believe me, we are very active in in trying to find rescues and homes for our pets. We take in up to 30 animals in a day and less than 30 percent of them are euthanized.”

Located on Fairfax Bypass, the local shelter has a director and three part-time people. The Humane Society sorely needs volunteers and donations to help them with an expansion plan. There are currently 16 kennels at the shelter, and the goal is to almost double that number to 31.

“We can use carpenters and welders to help us do this,” Radford said. “We will provide the materials. Donations will help with this.”

Radford is one of ten CHS board members. Others include Stanley Tucker, the president; Dantz Frazer, vice-president and treasurer; Shirley Ausman, secretary; Robbye Smith, O’Neal Shaw, Dave Shirley, Gayla Blades and Karen Meadows. The current board has given up on relocating the shelter, preferring to improve what’s there. The kennel expansion is a first step in that direction.

Shelter Director Shon Sims said the CHS works with five or six rescues.

“We send far more animals out to rescues than we adopt,” she said.

The rescued animals can go to distant destinations.

“We had a van come in from Illinois last year,” Sims said. “They emptied us out, and we loved it. We want our pets to have good homes wherever they are.”

Sims believes that spaying and neutering is making a difference.

“When I first came here 16 years ago, we were taking in over 4,500 animals a year,” she said. “That number is down to 1,500 per year. Spaying and neutering is making a big difference. Our number one goal is to prevent them from coming in in the first place.”

Radford said the CHS had a holiday special that raised over $1,000.

“We are moving in the right direction,” he said. “There’s no profit to be made in taking care of animals. We lose money, but we are doing the right thing.”

Radford quotes the Book of Proverbs in that it’s righteous to take care of animals.

“We are overcrowded,” he said. “We need to expand, and we need to keep working with rescues. We have lots of resources available. Facebook is important to us. We have 6,000 followers who keep up with what we are doing. I think we are making significant strides in the right direction. Dr. Kelli Hodge of the Chambers County School District and Jennifer Boyd of Lanett have been helpful. They let us do programs in the schools. We are currently targeting students who are in the third, sixth and ninth grades and educating them about proper pet care and the humane treatment of animals.”

There’s a $100 fee to adopt a pet from the shelter. Radford said that potential pet owners should not look at this as an obstacle.

“A $100 adoption fee is really cheaper than doing it for free,” he said. “That fee includes the pet being spayed or neutered and having all its shots. These fees can be higher if you pay for that yourself.”

The local shelter has a foster program that’s very beneficial for the dogs and cats.

“They don’t know why they are being kept in cages. It scares them,” he said. “If you come by and smile at them it changes their demeanor. We need people to hold pets and to make them feel wanted. It’s good for them to be part of a family, even for a short period of time. It helps transition a pet from where they didn’t want to be to a place of love.”

“We want people to understand that we do not enjoy euthanizing dogs and cats,” Radford said. “There’s a labor of love in what we do, and we are doing it on less than a shoestring budget. The main thing the public can do is to volunteer and to donate. We really could use some volunteer welders and carpenters for our expansion. We love volunteers.”