By ANGYE MORRISON
The past year has been difficult for the Humane Society of Statesboro & Bulloch County (HSSBC). The pandemic has prevented the organization from being able to host fundraisers like they usually do, so things have been a little tight.
But that’s not the biggest struggle the organization faces. Carrie Mitchell and Rene Durfee, who together have more than 30 years of experience with HSSBC, say the biggest hurdle the organization faces is the simple fact that many people in the community confuse the organization with Bulloch County Animal Services, often simply called the county shelter.
Lynn Ivey, who is the current HSSBC president, says people often take to social media to criticize the organization for not picking up stray animals, when it’s not what they do. That’s the job of the county shelter’s Animal Control folks. Ivey says people often won’t call to get help for any animal because they think that if the county picks it up, it will just be put down.
And that’s just not true anymore, she says.
The HSSBC works with Bulloch County Animal Services, but is a totally independent organization that is completely volunteer-organized and operated. It operates with a board of about nine to 10 members. The history of the two organizations contributes to much of the confusion, Durfee says.
“Years ago, the (county) shelter was very much a high kill shelter. People of the community still relate it to that because that’s what they remember. But it’s come a long way from that,” she said.
Mitchell adds that back in the 1980s, the original county shelter was built by the Humane Society, which operated it for about 15 years. The county took over the operation in the late 1990s, and although the two entities operate independently today, they partner together to save and care for local ani-mals.
Ivey adds that the county shelter picks up stray animals and houses animals for stray holds and other reasons. “HSSBC will pull special needs animals and other animals from the shelter after stray hold. The animals are vetted, spayed and neutered and put up for adoption. There are occasions where animals are transported to other rescues where they can be adopted,” she said.
Durfee says the need to take animals from the county shelter is less needed these days, thanks to community support and increased adoptions.
The Humane Society also works with Fixing the Boro, another independent organization whose mission is to provide low cost spay/neuter services for Bulloch County. The HSSBC works with Fixing the Boro to get local pets spayed or neutered at a reduced cost for local residents who couldn’t afford it otherwise.
“We help people who can’t afford the cost at Fixing the Boro. Of course, it’s cheaper there than at the vet, but still, there are a lot of people that can’t afford it. We provide vouchers; they pay $20 and we pay the rest,” said Mitchell.
“Working with Fixing the Boro works very well for what we do,” added Durfee.
HSSBC also runs a Community Cat program, which provides assistance to local residents with spaying and neutering outdoor community cats. These cats are trapped, spayed or neutered and given rabies vaccine, and ear- tipped, indicating the cat has been fixed and vaccinated. The cats are then returned to their communities. The program helps to keep the cat population down, at no cost to Bulloch County taxpayers—it is completely paid for by funds raised by the Humane Society.
The Humane Society was unable to hold their usual fundraisers this past year because of COVID, but you can still help. Volunteers are always welcome, and it doesn’t have to be directly working with animals.
ReTails Thrift Shop, located at 105 N. College Street, offers a place where you can donate clothing, household and decorating items, furniture, sporting goods, books, media and more. The items are resold, and after the cost of overhead is paid, all the money goes to support the Humane Society’s care of animals. ReTails is always in need of people to lend a hand, even if it’s just a couple of hours a week.
ReTails, which was voted as Best Thrift Store in Statesboro and recognized as one of the 10 Best Thrift Stores in Georgia by bestthingsga.com, is open on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from noon to 5 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you’d like to volunteer, call 912-489-6376.
You can also lend a hand by donating items for the animals, including food, treats, toys, leashes, collars, cat litter, pet carriers and crates, cat traps and gift cards to Petco, Walmart or Tractor Supply.
If you’d like to work with animals directly, fosters are always needed. Typically, the Humane Society has about 25 to 30 cats or kittens in foster homes, and an average of about 20 to 25 dogs. All of the fosters are volunteers, and each animal is looking for a forever home.
“We all have full-time jobs and families,” Durfee said. “We do this because we have a love for animals. But we are always in need of fosters and volunteers. All sorts of help is needed, and we are always accepting donations.”
“We try to have fun, educational events so we can help as many animals as possible,” said Ivey. “We work closely with the shelter and Fixing the Boro, as well as local vets. It is important for us all to work together because we are all trying to reach the same goal.”
For more information on the HSSBC, to volunteer or donate, go online at www.statesborohumane.org. You can also find them on Facebook, @statesborohumanesociety, or call 912-681-9393. Durfee says you should leave a message, and allow a day or so for them to get back with you.
Find out more about Fixing the Boro at www.fixingtheboro.com, and Bulloch County Animal Services at www.bullochcoanimalshelter.org.