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Local channels passion into humanitarianism

Doris McQuiddy can’t remember when she didn’t have a special place in her heart for the most vulnerable members of society.  “I’ve always had a good rapport with children and animals,” McQuiddy says.

The longtime Ft. Deposit resident spent two decades in classrooms across the Southeast. Later she worked with the State Department of Education here in Alabama for 27 years as its sole special education mediator.

“I never wondered what I would do when I grew up; I was born to teach, and I did that,” McQuiddy says.

“My students had animals in our class to care for . . . there were deer mice rescued from a university lab, hamsters rescued from a home that no longer wanted them and a couple of ducks, to name a few. It was so beneficial to those children to interact with the classroom pets.”

This longtime feline fancier, whose last two much-loved cats lived to be 22 and nearly 20, moved to Fort Deposit in 1976.  She discovered a dog, “a 99-percent black lab” that more or less came with her new home.

“The previous owners didn’t want her. Belle was mine and Roy’s first dog together, my ‘dog of a lifetime’ companion. She helped me make the transition from just being a cat owner,” McQuiddy explains.

Like a slow chain reaction, she and Roy found themselves adopting several more dogs in need of good homes as the years passed. And then came Pepper.

“Pepper, now Penny Pepper, belonged to someone in our area and I just fell in love with her . . . her owner was frequently gone and she seemed hungry, so I began to feed her,” McQuiddy says. “And then I offered the owner the opportunity to let me have her spayed. She ended up having ten healthy male puppies I helped care for until they could be weaned.”

When Penny Pepper’s owner moved, the dog joined the McQuiddy household. McQuiddy looked for help to find homes for the three remaining pups the original owner wasn’t able to place. And that’s when the Butler County Humane Society stepped in to help.

“Inge Lawrence and other volunteers with the BCHS helped me get those three remaining puppies to foster homes and ultimately to safety. They were flown out of state through the Pilots ‘N’ Paws program,” McQuiddy explains. “And then Inge invited me to a BCHS meeting.”

Soon McQuiddy found herself a welcome and active volunteer with this neighboring non-profit group.

“We do not have a humane society that I have ever known of in Lowndes, and I was so pleased to get to know people who cared so much about saving animals and helping those in need,” McQuiddy says.

“The BCHS assists pet owners and animals not only in Butler County, but in the surrounding areas, too. Just last year BCHS volunteer Annie Crenshaw allowed me to assist her in trapping a colony of feral cats at a Ft. Deposit gas station.  It was part of a Trap/Neuter/Return program to help us cut down on the pet overpopulation problem in Lowndes County.”

The BCHS is open to anyone interested in animal welfare, she says.

“We’d love to have caring people join us at our regular BCHS meetings every second Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the Camellia City Cafe and Bakery in Greenville,” says McQuiddy. “However, we know everyone’s schedules won’t allow them to attend.”

Opportunities to serve abound no matter the schedule, she stresses.

“Everybody does what they are able to do. Some serve as pet foster parents until the animals can be flown out of state to rescues or adopted locally,” McQuiddy says.

“Other volunteers provide transport of animals to the low-cost spay/neuter clinic, to the airport for fly-outs or as part of a land transport out of state. And some participate in the T/N/R programs.”

Donations of gently used items (other than clothing) are always welcome at the organization’s Hidden Treasures booth in Greenville, she says, and such items can be dropped off at the Shell Depot on Ft. Dale Road.

For a fee, McQuiddy says, proud pet owners can enter their prized pet pics into the annual BCHS calendar contest. Calendar sales serve as a major fundraiser. “We are so pleased we can partner with Priester’s Pecans in selling our calendars,” McQuiddy says. “You certainly don’t have to be from Butler County to enter the contest or to enjoy these beautiful calendars.”

Volunteers are also needed for special events including Bark in the Park in Greenville, the Hank Williams Festival in Georgiana, Pups on the Patio at the Greenville Wintzell’s and the Greenville Tractor Supply’s periodic Pet Appreciation Days.

And there’s a certain April event in Ft. Deposit where the BCHS always makes an appearance.

“Calico Fort is such a great community event. We have a booth right outside the gates. Sometimes we even ‘babysit’ the pets for vendors,” McQuiddy says.

“Volunteers sell raffle tickets and items like our pet calendars and tee shirts. And we offer information about help getting pets spayed or neutered. It’s so important that people know low-cost spay/neuter pet surgery is available to all Alabama residents, regardless of income. I would love to see more people right here in Lowndes County understand the importance of ‘fixing’ your animals, for the sake of the animals and the community.”

If you happen to visit Calico Fort on Sunday morning, April 9, stop by the BCHS booth and say hello to busy volunteer Doris McQuiddy.

“It’s hard to find people to fill that Sunday morning slot, so I always volunteer to work it,” she says with a shrug and a smile. “I just try to help when and where I am most needed.”