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Humane Society differs from shelter
Humane Society member Linda Hamilton, left, and her certified therapy dog Sophie greet ReTails Thrift Shop customers Amanda Carden and Kassidy Smith, 9, as volunteer Mary Ann Davidson waits to ring in their purchases. Volunteers staff ReTails to help raise money for the Humane Society of Statesboro and Bulloch County. - photo by Associated Press

    Bulloch County has long endured a problem with unwanted dogs and cats.  Overpopulation, neglect and abandonment mean pets are often found hungry and homeless, but there are at least two groups dedicated to helping solve the problem.
    When faced with an animal problem, many people immediately seek help from “the humane society.”  Often, they don’t realize that the Humane Society of Statesboro and Bulloch County is a different agency from the Bulloch County Animal Shelter.
    The confusion is warranted, said Christina Lemon, incoming president for the Humane Society of Statesboro and Bulloch County. “The local shelter used to be the humane society. It was originally run by volunteers and was started by Father Lawrence Lucree” in the 1980s.
    But in the 1990s, a state mandate based on an area’s population ended in the shelter’s control being transferred to the City of Statesboro. Later, the shelter became a county responsibility.
    The Humane Society continued to work towards reducing the number of unwanted pets in the county and trying to educate the public in the importance of spaying and neutering. Today, the Humane Society and Bulloch County Animal Shelter work hand in hand, but provide separate services, she said.
    “The county trucks read (Bulloch) ‘humane enforcement,” and I think people are confused by the word humane,” Lemon said. “People often call, thinking we are the shelter.” In some cities, the Humane Society chapter does operate the city shelter, so the confusion is warranted, she said.
    The difference between the two is that the shelter is county-run, with a budget and funded by county revenue and taxpayers. The Humane Society is operated solely by volunteers and
members, and is funded through fundraisers and donations, she said.
    The shelter takes in problem animals and strays, offering suitable animals for adoption after being treated by a veterinarian. While some animals are adopted, others are euthanized due to space limitations.
    The Humane Society of Statesboro and Bulloch County doesn’t have a shelter, but takes animals into the homes of foster families, Lemon said. The dogs and cats are kept — and loved — until they are adopted by permanent owners.
    While the Humane Society is licensed by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, it is legally able to function as a
shelter, but “networks of foster families” host the pets until they find homes.
    Today, there are about 50 animals available for adoption, in about 30 different homes, she said. Even so, there is a need for more foster families because the number of animals needing temporary homes always exceeds the supply.
    Fostering cats and dogs isn’t always easy, and some people who try cannot follow through. “Some don’t last 24 hours,” she said. “People have different levels of tolerance” and ability. “The people we have are the shining stars of this group.”
    Deb Kosina, a foster volunteer and member of the Humane Society of Statesboro and Bulloch County, agreed that the overpopulation of cats and dogs is a constant battle. While many owners are willing to spay and neuter, often the issue is money.
    That’s why the group’s spay and neuter program is beneficial, she said. Pet owners who qualify can get assistance through the Humane Society to fund spaying or neutering, and that helps with pet overpopulation.
    One way the Humane Society of Statesboro and Bulloch County funds this and other programs is through the ReTails thrift shop on North College Street. “Funding and fostering are the biggest challenges we have. The ReTails shop helps this.”
    Volunteers operate the thrift shop, keeping costs down so the profits can go to helping the animals. “They have just about anything you can think of, and it is all donated by people in our county,” Kosina said. “We opened a year ago and all our profits go towards the rescue and spay and neuter programs.”
    The group helps provide spay and neuter services through the Spay and Neuter Alliance Clinic. Pets are picked up for transport at a Statesboro location and taken for the procedure, then returned. More information can eb found at Internet website
    The store also houses the Humane Society’s home office, Lemon said. The phone lines are answered by volunteers who also help with other operating issues.
Despite hosts of volunteers, more are always needed, she said. “And we need a volunteer webmaster. There are many ways people can volunteer if they can’t foster or work with the animals.”
    Both Kosina and Lemon urge citizens to join the Humane Society of Statesboro and Bulloch County. “Our group meets every first Monday of every month, at St. Matthews Catholic Church at 7 p.m.”
    Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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