By Becky Everhart
In the summer of 1977, a notice appeared in The Dispatch from Jane Arey, a member of the Humane Society of Rowan County, asking if anyone was interested in beginning a humane society in Davidson County. “Corky” Briggs, Vicky Green, and I responded. A handful of people attended the first meeting, and the Humane Society was born. The tenets the society holds dear are simple: alleviate animal suffering and promote humane treatment of animals. Corky worked tirelessly for the organization for almost 20 years. Vicky, as Secretary, served more than 30 years. Both are now deceased. I served as Treasurer for 36 years and continue to be active.
The HSDC’s first full year of operation was 1978, with a total income of $1,270. In 2016, it topped $109,000. We are an all-volunteer force; approximately 90% of funds collected are used directly for program services. They include the Spay/Neuter and Sick/Injured Animal programs, Foster Care/Adoptions, Investigations, and the Pet Food Pantry.
Kristie Miller, the Secretary of the HSDC and one of the coordinators of the Pet Food Pantry program, said she knew we helped a lot of animals, but until she became a Board member last year, she had no idea how much people benefited as well. Help, we did. Last year, the pantry distributed over 10 tons of pet food to hundreds of animals.
In 1978, our first investigators traveled 1,270 miles. In 2001, we logged 8,000 miles. Currently, our president, Bruce Kingsbury, along with Gay Hutchins and Donna Harrington, travel to all corners of the county checking on cases of potential neglect or abuse and offering help.
Janet Fluharty, one of the HSDC Foster Care providers, loves cuddly puppies. She and other volunteers have placed hundreds of dogs and cats over the years into forever homes. Angie Byerly, a cat adoption coordinator, has found homes for more than 20 cats this year alone, thanks in part to our adoption fairs at PetSmart. Both volunteers love what they do, but admit fostering is hard work. Last year we spent over $23,000 on the program, rehoming over 100 dogs and cats. Foster Care/Adoptions is labor intensive and expensive to operate, but it is also deeply rewarding.
I serve as the coordinator of the Spay/Neuter and Sick/Injured Animal programs, allocating funds for veterinary care for many animals yearly. In 1983, the year the Spay/Neuter program began, the amount spent on both programs was $462. Last year, the total was more than $46,000, helping hundreds of animals and people, too. Countless times we hear a tearful “God bless you,” when funds are allocated for owners who struggle on a fixed income to have their pets fixed or to provide emergency veterinary care.
Conservatively, over 15,000 animals have been altered through our Spay/Neuter programs. Adding in the number of kittens and puppies not born, the number becomes exponential! Reimbursement for some surgeries from the State Spay/Neuter Fund helps to maintain the program. Another resource we utilize is a transport to Planned Pethood in Greensboro, a low-cost, high-volume spay/neuter clinic. Through this partnership, over 2,000 animals have been altered over the last five years.
Helping the helpless yesterday, today and tomorrow
In the 1980s, we focused on helping animals surrendered to the local shelter. We convinced Sheriff “Jaybird” McCrary to discontinue selling shelter dogs to Leach Kennels in Virginia, where they were then sold to research labs for experimentation. We pushed to have all shelter animals kept at least three days. We took “Pet of the Week” pictures weekly in hopes of saving animals’ lives and drawing attention to the tragedy of pet overpopulation. We developed an adoption fee waiver program whereby the cost of adopting an animal was waived if the adopter deposited the fee at a local veterinary office toward the cost of spay/neuter. We paid the balance of the spay/neuter fee.
In the 1990s, we were instrumental in making the public aware of the need for a new animal shelter to replace the antiquated “dog pound.” The newly formed Animal Center of Davidson County (ACDC) began the daunting task of fundraising for a new shelter to be owned and operated by Davidson County. We worked hand in hand with the ACDC, donating $12,000 for the new facility and thousands of volunteer hours, as well. In 1999, after four long years of fundraising, the new Animal Shelter was built on Glendale Road.
In the 2000s, we continued to work to alleviate animal suffering. We also participated in the creation and review of multiple animal ordinances for the City of Lexington and Davidson County. We finally purchased property on Piedmont Drive, where we run our Spay-Neuter Transport and operate our Pet Food Pantry monthly, as well as hosting fund-raising events.
What’s ahead? We are helping the City of Lexington to build a dog park! As past president and long-time member Gay Hutchins recently noted, “The dog park will benefit more than just the dogs in Davidson County. The health and well-being of all the citizens that use the park is a huge plus.” She is right. Not only will dogs enjoy the freedom to run and play and socialize with other dogs, many of which spend their days on tethers or inside apartments, but also the park will provide an opportunity for people to socialize and form the bonds that tie our community together.
Working for the animals and for the people of our cities and county is what we have done for the past 40 years. The next 40? We are just getting started!
Please contact us if you would like to be a part of making the Lexington Dog Park happen or to support our programs! We always need volunteers, pet food, and monetary donations.
Humane Society of Davidson County
PO Box 1791
Lexington, NC 27293
Regular line: 336-248-2706
Spay/Neuter line: 336-237-0131
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Officers and Board Members
Bruce Kingsbury, President
Kristie Miller, Secretary
Gay Hutchins, Treasurer