Local women further efforts for new Crenshaw animal shelter

Published 7:15 pm Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Thanks to the efforts of three local women, Crenshaw County residents may soon have a place to take unwanted or stray animals.

Kim Thiem, Betty Massey and Kim Kent have worked for more than a year to establish plans for the Crenshaw County Animal Shelter.

The trio met with the Crenshaw County Commission on three separate occasions since forming the organization, adding that they were receptive and helpful in suggesting buildings to use for a potential facility.

The most recent meeting bore fruit, as the commission OK’d the usage of the old hatchery in Rutledge for 2015.

Kent, who volunteered with the Butler County Humane Society for nine years, said that there is a serious need for such services in Crenshaw County.

“A lot of people don’t know the current procedure to follow if you find a stray in your yard or down the road,” Kent said.

“Most people would just drive by because they don’t know that if you call your commissioner and get permission that you can take them to the local vet.”

But even that solution isn’t efficient, according to Thiem.

“And it’s somewhat dangerous if you think of it, just for health reasons,” Thiem added.

“What if they have mange?  People may not know what that looks like and then they put the animal into their vehicle.”

Thiem estimates that around 90 percent of Crenshaw County residents that she has surveyed has seen a stray dog or cat in the past year, which would suggest that a shelter is needed.

But the women are also looking to provide resources and education about pets that promote community wellness.

Some of these programs could begin as early as October, starting with a low-cost spay/neuter program with the aid of the Alabama Animal Alliance.

Other priorities include instituting a program about animal care with the Luverne Public Library.

“We’d like to have programs that teach our kids about the relationships we have with animals and how they can make our lives better,” Thiem said.

“We’d also like to have a career day and get a vet technician, a groomer and a K-9 officer.  What we’re really looking for is a person that uses an animal for assistance of any form.”

But while those plans are being formed, the members of the Crenshaw County Animal Shelter are already looking at transforming the Rutledge hatchery into an appropriate space by making the facility wheelchair accessible and by eliminating the building’s leaks.

But for these and many other projects, the members are calling on the aid of local residents.

“The society will be open to the public, and anybody who wants to join is welcome,” Kent said.

“It’s not just picking up dog poop—there are so many things that need to be done.”

“We’re trying to look at it much more creatively,” Thiem added.

“We need dog walkers, people who can write grants, crafts—there’s something there for anyone to do, if it’s nothing but stuffing an envelope.

“This isn’t our humane society—this is Crenshaw County’s humane society.”