Pets hold a special place in our hearts—and hopefully we do in theirs as well. In exchange for full supper dishes, warm beds and lots of belly rubs, they give us love and companionship. Even health benefits too—a recent study published in late 2017 suggests that dog owners had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease. In addition, petting a cat is known to reduce stress levels.
But for many homeless animals in the Wiregrass there are no warm beds or full bellies.What they do have, however, is hope—the Wiregrass Humane Society gives dogs and cats that have no other place to go a chance to find their perfect furever homes.
For more than 25 years, the Wiregrass Humane Society has networked with other animal shelters and animal control facilities to give homeless animals the best chance of finding a home.They have an easy and comprehensive adoption process that makes sure new pets and their people are perfect for each other. Prospective pet parents have time to get to know the animals to make sure they are a good fit for their families, and the Wiregrass Humane Society staff helps make the adoption process go quickly and smoothly.
The Wiregrass Humane Society, located at 255 Jerry Drive in Dothan, is a great bridge from a life on the streets to being at home curled up in your lap. Dogs and cats get plenty of attention, nutritious food, playtime and love at the shelter. The Wiregrass Humane Society provides an invaluable service to the community in helping alleviate the homeless animal population and they greatly rely on support from volunteers and donors to help the shelter give its very best to the dogs and cats in their care.
Want to know more about how you can help, or find out how to take home with a new furry family member or purrfect pet? Wiregrass Humane Society Director Shelley Brady answers our questions below!
Tell us about the history of the founding of the Wiregrass Humane Society.
WHS was founded in 1991. We started with just outdoor kennels and an all volunteer staff. The City of Dothan provided a low-cost lease and the current building was funded by private donations. Eventually, we were able to hire staff and that practice continues today.
What types of animals are accepted at the Wiregrass Humane Society? How many animals does the shelter regularly serve?
Wiregrass accepts dogs and cats only, although we have ended up with a ferret that was found at our thrift shop, Second Chance. The ferret was rehomed the next day as we don’t have the facility to care for those! We normally have a little over 100 animals. We have 24 dedicated indoor/outdoor dog runs, a puppy room that houses our babies until they are old enough for adoption, two cat rooms and an outside cattery.
How do the animals at the Wiregrass Humane Society end up in your care?
Most of our animals are pulled from other shelters, mostly those that have space limitations. We have a network with other Wiregrass shelters/animal control facilities, and we do our best to pull animals that have limited time left. We also take owner surrenders for a variety of reasons. It may be that the owner has a medical issue and can’t care for the animal any longer, or they are moving, and sadly can’t take their family member (pet) with them.
What is an average day at the Wiregrass Humane Society like for its residents (and humans, too!)?
Our cats have indoor/outdoor access, so they spend their days playing and being, well, cats! We love our kitties! It is fun to watch them play and interact with each other.
Our dogs start their day with the first of three rotations out on the play yards. They go out as much as possible to fight boredom and to get exercise. We also have many volunteers that come and play with and walk our dogs. They love the attention! All of our babies are fed twice a day, once in the morning while we clean and then in the evening before we leave for the day.
As far as the humans go, we have a fantastic staff of 10 people that love our babies with all their hearts! They spend the morning cleaning and then we open to the public at 12 p.m. Afternoons are spent working with guests and finding the perfect match for new homes. When we aren’t working with guests, we are playing with the dogs and cats, to give them as much normalcy as possible. Not to mention, we love it too!
Your main goal is to find good homes for these animals. How does a family or individual go about beginning the adoption process?
The process is pretty easy. We ask them to come out and meet the animals and find the one that “speaks” to them. We firmly believe that we don’t find our new best friend, they find us! We then have the guest fill out an adoption application to be submitted for approval by the management team. This is generally done within minutes.
Once a family or individual finds a furry friend who is perfect for them, what happens before they can take him/her home?
If the guest has other dogs, we require that they bring them to meet the potential new member. It most likely will be a happy meeting, and we will then process the application so they can take their new family member home! If the two dogs do not get along, we try to find another that will be a better match.
Some of our dogs require a home visit if they have special needs or we know they need a special situation. We do not require a meet and greet for our cats but some do have requirements of whether they can be inside or outside.
As a non-profit agency doing a great service to the area, what can the community do to help out?
We love volunteers! We have lots of jobs that we need help with on a daily basis – walking dogs, playing with dogs and cats, laundry and yard maintenance. We can always use donations of laundry detergent, bleach, hand sanitizer, soap, paper towels, toilet paper, etc. We love to have Purina One dog food, as it has less red dye and causes minimal tummy problems. Our cats are fed Purina Cat Naturals and Fancy Feast kitten wet food. Monetary donations are always appreciated as well!