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Liberty Humane Shelter struggles to stay open
pl shelterWoes
Volunteers Daniel Rairden and Terrance Stanton prepare to take Ken, Rocky and Torrid out for their morning stroll in the shelter's yard. The shelter has seen a decrease in membership dues, possibly due to the lagging economy. - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon


adoptable dogs at shelter

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The high cost of fuel and the lagging economy have changed the way Liberty County and Long County residents spend their money. When faced with the higher cost of gas and food, the choice to donate to a local charity falls to the wayside. The employees at Liberty Humane Shelter have struggled to come to terms with this problem and lessen the affects.
"We mailed 600 membership letters during our membership drive and we only got 100 back," Liberty Humane Shelter President Sandra Frye said. "When faced with the decision to use the $25 for a membership or buy gas, most people are going to buy gas."
Frye said the shelter is doing well as far as receiving donations of food, thanks to the generosity of the folks from Target, Kroger and Wal-Mart. But with a low return of membership applications and the always-increasing price of medical supplies and veterinarian bills, it's a shortage of funds that is currently jeopardizing the shelter's ability to stay open.
Last year the shelter was able to collect roughly $13,500 within the first six months through monetary donations from their membership drive and other support. Currently they are at 50 percent of last year's efforts.
"This forces us to reduce the amount of dogs we can pull from the control side," Frye said. "That means more are being put down than we can bring into our no-kill shelter."
The shelter currently has around 60 cats and 35 dogs. Last year the shelter saved a total of 340 animals from animal control. From January to May of this year, the shelter group was able to pull 231 animals from the animal control side and save their lives. During that same time period, they adopted out 170 pets. In June, they adopted out another 49.
"Getting them adopted has not been the problem so far," Frye said. "It's getting additional funds in that has slowed down. And things are getting desperate."
The shelter charges $125 to adopt an animal and while some may think that is a steep price to pay for a shelter pet, the public should know that despite that price, the shelter usually breaks even or loses money on each adoption.
"In the past we charged less but we would waste countless hours following up with people who adopted our pets but had not followed procedure to get them spayed or neutered," Frye explained. "We are required by the Department of Agriculture to do that because it is the policy. So we decided we were going to be more proactive with our animals and be part of the solution to reduce the number of unwanted pets and not continue to contribute to a bad situation."
Frye said every animal that is adoptable is spayed or neutered before leaving the facility. They are also micro-chipped and have their entire first set of vaccinations.
"We even go one step above everyone else," she said. "Thanks to the help of Dr. Peeples, the dogs go through a preliminary obedience course so they are healthy, well-fed and well mannered pets ready to go to any home."
The extra money put in to the animals has reduced their need to chase down clients after the adoption and ensures they are in compliance with the Department of Agriculture.
Frye explained a good portion of the funds that they receive goes toward veterinary bills for spay and neuter procedures, as well as medicines for the pets who need extra care before becoming adoptable. The rest goes toward the salaries of the shelter workers, excluding Frye and the Board, and maintenance of the building.
The building improvements and maintenance upgrades the shelter staff and volunteers have done over the last year helped reduce the cross-contamination of canine-parvo, increased the quality of life for the animals at the shelter, which led to a steady stream of adoptions because people knew they were getting healthy and fit animals. Pets are being adopted from the local area but many have heard the word of the work done at the shelter and have adopted a dog from as far away as New York.
But the sudden lag in the economy means many are not donating as frequently and when asked what would happen if they ran out of funds and had to close, Frye struggled to blink back tears, saying, "I'll do whatever I can to help these babies. I'll search everywhere I can to make sure they have somewhere to go before I let anything else happen to them."
The reality Frye dreads is the fact that if they don't find a place for every animal, should the shelter be forced to close, some will likely be euthanized.

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