Consider this statistic: In June, the Jackson County Animal Shelter in Gautier took in 550 animals.
That staggering number represents about 18 dogs and cats a day that need shelter, food, water, bathing, and plenty of potty breaks.
“Animals are just pouring in,” said Maridee Mallette, the shelter’s adoption coordinator.
The reasons for the near-constant stream of animals vary. Many pet owners are not spaying or neutering their animals, while others are using the shelter as a way to re-home unwanted pets, Mallette said.
The problem can seem overwhelming, but playing a part in saving an animal’s life doesn’t require you to adopt a hundred animals. It can be as small as buying some cat food or paying for Fluffy’s rabies shot.
Mallette said the greatest need is for monetary donations. The “free” adoption days, where the usual $50 adoption fee is waived for adoptees, are funded by sponsors. The adoption fee pays for spaying or neutering your new best friend, initial vaccinations and health exams.
In addition to money, the shelter currently needs Purina Dog, Puppy, or Kitten Chow, canned dog or cat food, dog treats, dishwashing and laundry soaps, and bleach.
Mallette said the shelter is always looking for people who are willing to help bathe animals, clean kennels and give the animals a little bit of that human socialization necessary to prepare them for their forever families. Those interested in volunteering are asked to visit the shelter to fill out an application and discuss available opportunities.
The shelter also needs foster homes for animals that are not adoptable when they first arrive to the shelter. These animals may be too young, sick, injured, or otherwise require special care that’s better provided in a home.
Last, but not least, the shelter needs people who are looking to adopt their family’s newest best friend—as long as you’re ready for the commitment.
Considering that cats and dogs routinely live up to 15 years old, adopting an animal is a major decision, Mallette emphasized.
“They’re going to chew things up. They’re going to mess up your house sometimes. They’re going to potty in your house,” Mallette said. “They’re going to bark, but you can’t get rid of your kids, so why would you get rid of your animal?”
Once you know you’re ready, the process itself is easy, Mallette said. You’re asked to bring a photo ID and $50 for the adoption fee to the shelter when you’re ready to adopt.
The shelter maintains a Facebook group called “Jackson County Animal Shelter Gautier, MS Adoptable Pets,” complete with information about available animals and a picture (or video!) for each one that is guaranteed to melt your heart.
Learn more about the animal shelter and the animals available for adoption at https://www.co.jackson.ms.us/departments/animal-shelter/