Text and Photos by Linda Holzman
A few days ago, I had a nice luncheon date with a couple of friends, Deb Navin and Elise Smith. Elise works for and Deb volunteers at The Humane Society and Adoption Center of Rockport/Fulton. They told me I should visit the shelter and see how it operates. I arranged to visit during Deb’s Sunday shift and she and other volunteers showed me around. I’m so glad I went. The following is a bit of what I learned about the HSAC.
When you drive up onto the property, there is a very nice administrative building on the left. The sign on the front sets the tone for the visit. The property is 3 1/2 acres, which was donated by Jane & Bruce Ponton, and includes a caretakers cottage that was donated by HEB.
Inside is the administration desk where you will be greeted when you come to adopt a pet. Just to the right is a gift shop. There are very nice items for your pet priced at $3 (or whatever you want to pay above that amount, of course). I’ve got my eye on a jacket for my Yorkie.
It was the beginning of Deb’s shift and she and Karen, one of the volunteers who works in the Cattery, were at the desk, exchanging information about what needed to be done that day. There were volunteers coming and going. They were in the process of carrying out their assigned tasks of feeding, cleaning, medicating, exercising and giving special time to the animals.
Among them was Julie, the Yard Manager.
First stop was the room set aside for potential adopters to meet and spend time with cats one-on-one prior to choosing their new family member for adoption.
There is a general purpose room with a little break room in the corner and a small treatment room where the animals are seen by a volunteer visiting vet, periodically, to determine any special needs and make recommendations for care. I met Aileen, the volunteer coordinator, there. That’s a big job with all the volunteers that are needed to make this facility hum.
Then on to the Cattery where I was greeted by many prying eyes of curious cats and kittens of various ages and ignored by others who would rather just sleep till meal time. I happened to visit on a very exciting day. It was meat day. That’s the day that the cats get a special treat of wet cat food. But, it wasn’t meal time and I enjoyed lots of purring, rubbing, and petting. Those babies are so well-loved and cared for. The volunteers on duty know them by name and know their habits. They were very informative. There are three sections to the Cattery. One for young, energetic cats, one for adult cats who are still quite young but have developed their personality, and one for older cats who may need a bit less excitement. The younger cats each had his/her name on a collar; pink for females, blue for males.
I met Nugget, gorgeous a grey cat with white markings and paws who will go to his forever home on Friday. The adoptive parents came to visit him while I was there. There was Liddy, a tortie, who is strikingly beautiful, Sunshine (pictured with Karen, above) who is a “love muffin and lap cat." Melba, Brier Rose and Alice who are both pictured below.
There are, currently, 58 cats and an average of 100-120 total animals in residence at any given time. From there, we went to the outside area where the dogs live. On the way, I met Stella, a potential adoptee, a sweet natured girl who resembled an Australian cattle dog.
I was so impressed with the facilities.
There are large areas fenced off, each of which contains one or two dogs. Their names are on their fence. Without being told, you can figure out which dog is which; that is how carefully the people working there pick names for the rescues.
Billy and Bertha are a bonded pair. They are forever friends who would, ideally, be adopted to a forever home together.
Huxley (below) is a happy-go-lucky fella who is not too large, not too small. He’s just right
Annie Oakley (below) seems like a pistol; in a good way.
There are also older dogs and cats living out there lives at HSAC.
HSAC has an isolation facility. When animals arrive, they are kept in isolation for 2 weeks to avoid the possibility of introducing a communicable disease to the other animal residents. Currently, there are two handsome Basset Hounds in isolation. I think it was Deb who nicknamed them Alias Smith and Jones. They were found wandering south of town.
Nearby is an area where cats who are not comfortable indoors are cared for and given shelter and fed.
Animals with conditions such as allergies are fed special diets. Some, for example, need grain-free pet food.
Dogs on special diets are kept in pairs in the same run. The residents are given flea meds and the facility is free of the pesky insects.
I was shown a special ‘meet and greet’ area that is new to the facility. It was built by volunteers, Matt Anderson of Ahern Rentals and Orlo Johnson who is with Cheniere LNG. The area is enclosed and has a deck and picnic table so that future owners and their families have a place to spend time with potential adoptees out of sight of other residents. It’s beautifully designed.
I asked about the small spotlights scattered around the area on, what looked like, timers. They are on at night for security. There is a large, plastic owl on a fence post to discourage squirrels and varmints who might want to come in and feed on the animals’ meals.
After we toured the large dog area, Deb was called away for a few moments. While I waited for her, I sat on a memorial bench and looked through my notes and listened to the sounds of the facility. Dogs were barking, as one would expect, but the barking was not frantic nor stressed. It was actually quite a peaceful respite. Peaceful...that word perfectly describes my experience that day. Time flew by in a good way.
There are, currently, a few small dogs available. I was blessed to be there when one of them who is, lovingly, called "Chicken Bone" because he is so small and his little legs feel so tiny and fragile was offered a home. His real name is Finley. He’s a Chinese Crested and I’m so happy they selected him. When I held him, he laid his little head on my shoulder and licked my neck. Who could possibly resist that?
A nice man named Ronnie Crisp brought a couple in to see if there were any suitable dogs available to join their family. They are previous adopters who lost a dog 6 months ago and still have a Shih Tzu at home.
The volunteers asked questions to help determine which dog might be the best fit for the couple’s lifestyle. They then showed the couple pictures in books on the counter that list the attributes of the various available dogs. Finley was brought out and introduced. He stole their hearts and is in the process of adoption. Finley showed Ronnie so much gratitude.
I learned that Ronelle at Animal Control works closely with HSAC to try to place abandoned animals.
SOME OTHER THINGS I LEARNED
- There are 6 part-time employees and a manager. All other work is done by volunteers.
- Shelter manager Lori Cesar has been very instrumental in the changes the facility has gone through over the past 3 years. Kudos to Lori and her team.
- There is always a need for foster homes to, temporarily, foster dogs. I learned there is also a program for ‘Forever Fosters’ wherein a family or individual can foster an animal while it lives out its life and HSAC will take care of medical expenses. An application to become a foster is available on the HSAC website. www.rockportfultonhumanesociety.org or their Facebook page www.facebook.com/Humane-Society-and-Adoption-Center-of-Rockport-Fulton-187136354640613
- There is a part-time foster program. Participants are allowed to take animal residents home for, for example, a week or a weekend and enjoy time with the animal while allowing them to enjoy being in a family home.
- Do you want something relaxing and rewarding to do during your lunch hour or any time of the day? Take a shelter dog for a walk. Arrange with HSAC to partner you with a dog for your daily, or occasional, walk.
- Food that is not used by the facility is redirected back to the community for use by people who are in need of assistance for their pets and through charitable organizations to assist needy pet owners.
THERE ARE OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP HSAC MEET THE NEEDS OF THE ANIMAL COMMUNITY
- Donations can be made through the website or the Facebook page. You can donate using Paypal, check, cash, or credit card.
- Donations can be made in other forms. There is an ongoing need for pet beds, towels, sheets, blankets (no pillows, please), food, treats, leashes, collars, and specialty foods such as grain-free food. Use your imagination or ask an employee or volunteer for ideas.
- Donations can be directed toward specific areas of need:
- For a particular animal
- For a pet project
- Toward medical care
- For neutering
If you or your group would like a tour of the facility, contact them to make arrangements. NOTE: No sandals. You should wear closed toed shoes.
I wish I could have given credit, by name, to all the wonderful volunteers who give their time, freely. Thank you and may God bless you.