Forsyth Humane Society is saving lives
Each year, over 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized nationwide, and North Carolina is, unfortunately, among the leading states who contribute to that statistic. In fact, according to a recent report by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, public animal shelters in our state euthanized over 71,000 cats and dogs in 2018 alone. The good news is that one Triad area agency is making great strides in significantly reducing the number of euthanized pets. Just last week, the Forsyth Humane Society received national recognition and a cash award from Best Friends Animal Society, for having increased its save rate from 28% to 81%.
Much of the Humane Society’s progress has occurred since becoming a contract partner with Forsyth County last year. At that time, FHS assumed responsibility for managing the intake, care, and disposition of cats and dogs at two shelters, which can accommodate a total of 300 animals. I spoke with executive director Sarah Williamson about the Humane Society’s success, and where we go from here.
JL: How have you been able to improve the save-rate so quickly, and so significantly?
SW: It’s because of our two, difference-making programs: Foster care and Transfer. Our community has really stepped up and opened their homes to foster animals. On any given month, we have between 300 and 500 animals in foster care. We also partner with about 50 breed-specific rescue organizations, and we transfer animals to them that fit their programs. We also routinely transport animals to “no-kill” shelters in Northern states, who are seeking rescue animals. These programs open up kennel space in our shelters, making room for the next animal that comes to us.
JL: What role has the Humane Society Board and your staff played in the success of the agency?
SW: We could not perform this mission without the support of our volunteers, our donors, everyone who adopts, everyone who fosters, and everyone who donates supplies. We have a hard-working, dedicated staff and Board that makes it all come together.
JL: Other than caring for animals and facilitating adoptions, what other services does Forsyth Humane Society offer?
SW: We offer subsidies that help people afford spay or neuter surgeries for their pets. We help fund about 200 of these important surgeries each year. We also manage a pet food pantry in partnership with five, faith-based organizations, which help people in need to be able to keep their pets at home.
JL: Forsyth Humane Society was one of only eight agencies recognized nationally by Best Friends for your high save-rate, but they also awarded you $16,000. How will that money be used?
SW: In addition to the Best Friends grant, we also received a $16,000 grant from the James G. Hanes Foundation, and together, those funds will enable us to purchase a new vehicle with which we can safely and comfortably continue our life-saving transports to rescue organizations and no-kill shelters.
JL: I realize that you can never achieve a 100% save-rate because of animals who come to you, having been severely injured or with terminal illnesses; however, you have said that your goal is to reach 90% by 2023. What will it take to reach that goal?
SW: The last stretch, closing the gap between an 81% save-rate, and a 90% save-rate, will be hard. The gains will be smaller and harder-won. We will need to increase our community’s capacity and commitment to spay and neuter feral cats, and at the same time, work on saving animals with difficult behavioral and medical issues. It will take the support of our entire community to continue to save even more lives.
To inquire about adoption, make a donation, or purchase tickets to this year’s Furr Ball, visit www.forsythhumane.org