By Sandra Zunino
The Talbot Humane Society (THS) has been striving to provide the ethical treatment of animals in Talbot County since 1932. A private non-profit organization, THS is independent of other animal welfare organizations, relying heavily on donations to carry out its mission.
Through a contract with Talbot County, THS provides animal control services such as protecting animals from cruelty and neglect as well as retrieving stray animals. Any retrieved animal is housed for seven days to allow the owner an opportunity to collect a lost pet. THS evaluates the health and temperament of the animal during that time, moving it to the adoption facility if it goes unclaimed.
According to THS Director Brian Metcalf, the onsite adoption center can house about 50 cats and 20 dogs ideally, but currently has almost 150 cats. While some cats are placed in foster homes, there are not enough foster homes to handle the current numbers.
Due to the economy, more animals are being dropped off at shelters nationwide because people can no longer afford to provide them adequate care, says Brian. Simultaneously, adoptions have slowed and THS faces challenges financially because fewer people have the disposable income for donations.
Fortunately, THS has more than 200 dedicated volunteers to lend assistance. “Volunteers are the backbone of our organization,” says Brian. “Without them, we couldn’t exist.”
Many THS programs are available to curb cat and dog populations as well as help owners provide responsible care. Thanks to various participating veterinarians, through the low-cost spay and neuter program, THS subsidizes spay and neuter surgeries for pets of low-income Talbot County residents. “Additionally, we provide spay and neuter service for approximately 1,000 animals each year,” says Brian.
Through the Pet Pantry Program, THS provides pet food to community residents who are experiencing financial difficulties so their animals will not go without. “So far this year we have provided 4,500 pounds of pet food to people in our community,” says Brian.
With THS’s Shiloh fund, life-threatening accident and medical emergency expenses beyond normal care of shelter animals are covered. “If a dog is hit by an automobile and was running at large in the community,” Brian explains, “we will take that animal to a veterinarian for treatment.”
Brian came to THS last October, relocating from Wenatchee, Washington where he was a Humane Society executive director. Since his arrival, he implemented the Chastity Lonely Hearts Club in honor of a dog that had been in THS’s care. With this new program, any animal in the shelter for more than 120 days becomes a club member allowing the adoption fees to be waived. According to Brian, animals sheltered for extended periods can suffer kennel stress, rendering them unadoptable. By waiving adoption fees, Brian hopes to save animals from that life-threatening condition.
Brian says he hopes to create a culture of team, family and mutual accountability at THS. The team, consisting of volunteers, staff, donors, adopters, sponsors and business partners as well as the THS critters, will be part of the THS family. “We are going to hold annual family reunions and invite every member of our family to attend and share their happy stories,” says Brian.
On December 19, THS will hold an Open House from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. providing face painting for children, refreshments, raffles and giveaways. Most importantly, more than 100 cats will be offered for a special $25 adoption fee. The special will continue through December.
For more information call 410-822-0107 or visit www.talbothumane.org. THS accepts non-monetary donations such as pet food and supplies.