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Big Valley Animal Rescue works to find local animals homes

The Big Valley Animal Rescue was founded in 2016 when a group of people saw a need in the community to save animals from euthanasia. BVAR is funded by donations and is a 501(3)(c) non-profit, operated solely by volunteers with a core group of six board members and ten others that help in various areas.

BVAR works to rescue animals mostly in Chambers County, but also works at times with Russell and Lee Counties as well as Columbus. Sharon Smith, who serves as the organization’s treasurer and volunteer coordinator, says Big Valley Animal Rescue has an intake coordinator that monitors the available animals and works to find suitable placement. BVAR does not have a physical location so most initial placement is through fostering as they search for forever homes. Smith says BVAR is always looking for more fosters.

“The more fosters we have the more animals we can save,” Smith said.

If an animal is pulled from the humane society, Smith said the animal is usually with a foster one to two weeks. In an emergency type of situation, that time can vary a bit.

“If it’s an emergency situation where they’re going to be put down for space, we might not know exactly where they’re going yet, or it might be a little further out, or even a medical case,” Smith said. “A lot of times, I will take the medical cases to my house.”

By the time animals are adopted, BVAR has vetted the animals. The animal is also spayed or neutered before adoption.

BVAR also offers foster to adopt, which allows for a period where BVAR can assist with behavioral issues and the animal can get acclimated with other animals in their new home.

Smith said BVAR tests dogs around other animals to ensure they are able to play well with other animals.

“It really kind of flags issues, and we can work with them before they are adopted into a home,” Smith said.

Adoptions do not always take place in the Chattahoochee Valley. BVAR has contacts in Pennsylvania, Virginia and New York. BVAR works with a couple of different companies that specialize in animal transport.

“We have one that we use that is always on Wednesday night. They have vans, they have kennels and are all set up,” Smith said.

The animals are loaded on the vans and driven north to meet other rescues. Fees for transporting are paid for by the receiving rescue and are typically based on the size of the animal.

Smith said that once a month volunteers will load up a van — or two — and drive halfway up to Nickel City, New York to meet to transfer animals.

There are some health certificates that each animal traveling out of state must have.

“They have to go to the vet and get an exam, and we have to pay for the health certificate that enables them to travel and be transferred to another rescue,” Smith said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith said they saw an increase in animals wanted from their northern rescue partners.

“I guess maybe with people being at home, I’m not sure. But. they really wanted to increase the number that they were looking for,” Smith said. “We did see an increase locally in some of the ones that that might be having financial troubles, and they had to rehome, or if they moved, and had to rehome their dog for that.”

“We are definitely in need of volunteers, we need fosters, and we need people to donate,” Smith said.

There are plenty of avenues to take for anyone that wants to donate to BVAR. Monetary donations can be made with various app-based services like PayPal, Venmo, or Cash app as well as checks.

BVAR also has established an Amazon account with a list of supplies they need.

“If we have fosters, we try to provide them with everything they need,” Smith said. “We always need Clorox, dog food, cat food, paper towels, all of those things.”

Smith said she wanted to remind everyone to be responsible pet owners.

“Spay and neuter their pets, give their monthly heartworm prevention and get vaccines,” Smith said. “A lot of times when we find strays, we can’t find their owners. When we do the heartworm test they are positive, and that takes a month or two to treat and is very expensive.”

For anyone interested in donating, fostering or adopting, applications can be found through the Big Valley Animal Rescue’s Facebook page.