By Kendal Groner
Since the Unicoi County Animal Welfare Board meeting earlier this month, the Unicoi County Animal Shelter staff has been working diligently to raise much needed funds and secure successful adoptions.
During the Nov. 9 meeting, the staff and board members made the decision to temporarily cease intakes due to the influx of animals they had been receiving from other counties.
“We don’t like turning people down, and we’ve made every attempt to take as many animals as possible,” said Anna Nickels, Unicoi County Animal Shelter employee. “We got overloaded when Carter and Hawkins counties quit accepting animals.”
With all of the additional animals, this has meant more overhead costs for the shelter. The shelter held a coffee, kittens and yoga fundraiser on Nov. 25 at the Downtown Yoga Studio in Johnson City.
“Yoga, Kittens and Coffee was a success,” said Jessica Rogers, Unicoi County Animal Shelter director. “More than 30 humans and 22 cats attended. The event sold out and we raised $550 for the shelter. We also had two cat adoptions.”
Nickels said that they currently have more pit bulls and hounds than any other type of dogs, but there are several rescues up north that are usually excited to see hounds because that breed is more difficult to find in that region.
“The staff has had to work harder,” Nickels said. “Along with monetary donations we are still in need of non-clumping litter, bleach, fabuloso cleaner, cat toys and any kind of flea medication. People always seem to donate more around Christmas time,” she added.
Rogers said that there has been a great community response recently, and they’ve seen an increase in bedding donations and supplies. The shelter has always had a very active foster program, but due to financial concerns they are unable to add any new fosters at this time.
“We are always in need of volunteers, and they are always welcome during open hours to help walk dogs, play with the cats and assist with light cleaning,” said Rogers.
The shelter will revisit the decision to temporarily close intake during the Dec. 11 Animal Welfare Board meeting. Anyone interested in taking donations to the shelter or becoming a volunteer, can visit the shelter at 185 N. Industrial Drive in Erwin, or call the shelter at 743 3071.
The following is a list of the upcoming fundraisers and events for the shelter:
• Dec. 2 – East Coast Wings and Grill in Johnson City at 1 p.m.
• Dec. 2 – Barley’s Holiday Pawty at Main Street Cafe in Jonesborough from 7-10 p.m. The cost is $25 per person.
• Dec. 9 – The 5th annual Holiday Cookie Extravaganza at Fizz Soda Bar in Johnson City from 1-7 p.m.
• Dec. 16 – Christmas Open House for the shelter from 1-5 p.m.