The overabundance of stray animals on campus and in the community brings many questions to mind about ways to help the situation. According to a source on campus, one of the Blue Mountain College staff feeds and waters the dogs, but this simply attracts more animals (homeless or not) and does not offer a permanent solution to help the animals.
In 2012, a group of more than thirty concerned citizens gathered at the law office in Ripley with plans to open a supervised, well-structured animal shelter. The group was in contact with the Humane Society, working with their Rural Development program to open a spay/neuter mobile clinic in Tippah County.
However, the plan fell through. According to Ripley Mayor Chris Marsalis, “The City of Ripley was not prepared [financially] and still does not have the revenue to support that. Marsalis also mentioned that twenty years ago, Tippah County tried to open a shelter, but it “did not go well.”
The Facebook group "Union County MS Needs a Humane Society" began about two years ago to address the situation of stray animals in the area and raise public awareness. The group is funded by donations only at this point but has submitted several applications for grants. As of yet however they have not received any that contribute financial aid. They need another volunteer grant writer to help with these endeavors.
The UCHS does not currently have a facility to house the animals brought to them. They have a building fund that they regularly add to, but they are in need of an appropriate land donation to build on. In addition, “a facility will take a multitude of generous donations,” stated UCHS spokesperson, Emily Bennett.
Currently, the group is one hundred percent foster based, so the need for more foster parents is very great. The group pays for vetting and supplies, while the foster home only has to open their doors and their hearts to care for these animals until a forever home is found.
The UCHS has several volunteers but more are always needed. Bennett stated, “Aside from donors and foster homes, we need people to volunteer to transport animals to the vet and transport meeting places.” They have about a dozen foster homes but more are always needed.
The group hosts and participates in several fundraisers throughout the year. They set up booths at many local events such as the Tallahatchie Riverfest. They also host their own fundraisers like a Chinese Auction, Rummage Sale, Bake Sales, Raffles, and many others. They have t-shirts for sale currently which can be ordered by messaging them on their Facebook page or by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org. The shirts are designed by a New Albany artist and are $20.00 and bella canvas brand.
Bennett stated, “The only way to begin to fix the stray animal problem in our area is to spay and neuter as many animals as possible, so the first thing anyone can do to help is to make sure that they take responsibility in getting their own animals spayed and neutered.”
To help specifically with the UCHS rescue they can contact their Facebook page “Union County Needs a Humane Society” to receive more information. Also, visit uchsofms.org to receive more information on how to help.