FOGAS donation improves transport option at animal shelter
Recent fundraising efforts by Friends of the Gilmer Animal Shelter (FOGAS) will provide for better transport of animals to a number of pet adoption centers that work in conjunction with the county’s animal control facility at 4152 Highway 52 East.
Proceeds from an April barbecue and silent auction fundraiser conducted by FOGAS totaled more than $6,200, which was enough to purchase 25 Ruff Land “rough and tough kennel” carriers for the shelter, said Jack Peaden, FOGAS vice president.
The carriers typically retail for around $250 each, noted Gilmer Animal Shelter Director Daniel Laukka.
“These new crates will help retrofit the animal shelter’s transport van. They (make for) transportation of animals in a quiet, safe and less stressful environment. FOGAS would like to thank the area businesses and individuals that donated to make this possible,” Peaden added.
‘Imagine how full we would be...’
Since it was purchased by the county in December 2017, the animal shelter’s transport van has greatly increased the possibility of adoption for a large number of dogs at the facility.
“We go to multiple states, where we take animals to no-kill shelters that have adoption events. The farthest place we’ve transported to, on a consistent basis, is Golden Valley, Minn., which is right in the middle of Minneapolis. There’s also a group in Massachusetts we’ve transported animals to in the past,” said Laukka.
“We’ve probably been to Minnesota 25 times over the past three years,” he continued. “We take them to a no-kill Humane Society up there that has a large adoption population, but not enough dogs to adopt out so they import dogs from other states. Some of them already have people waiting to adopt the animals when we get there. They’re all going to good adoption centers.”
A highly populated area with a larger volunteer base contributes to more animals being adopted in the cities to which the Gilmer shelter runs transport, Laukka noted.
“When I went up there to Minnesota three years ago, they had a volunteer base of 1,500 people and their own transport service. When you have that many people helping to clean, volunteer, transport and advocate for the animals, they definitely save a lot of dogs up there,” he added.
Laukka said the new crates are more durable and easier to stack and clean than wire carriers typically used for transport purposes. Since thousands of miles can be logged in trips to other states, the stackable crates also provide a more stable ride for both animals and drivers.
“One thing is they’re more enclosed than the wire crates, so the dogs aren’t so much face to face for hours, which helps lessen the stress level. That alone helps them be more relaxed through the trip. After 18 hours of being next to a dog that barks, the animals can be stressed out when they get to a new place,” said Laukka. “The wire crates we use are also in so many different sizes, they don’t always fit on top of each other very well. Now, we have our own set of crates that we know exactly what they will be used for and they won’t get confused with any of the other crates that we use.”
The successful pet transport program is a big factor that’s led to the Gilmer County Animal Shelter attaining the designation of a no-kill shelter during the past year, Laukka confirmed.
“Since 2017, we’ve put over 90,000 miles on that transport van. There have been some months where we’ve driven to Minnesota, Wisconsin and Florida back to back. We stay full constantly at the local shelter, whether we’re transporting any animals or not. To be able to move 15 to 30 animals per transport definitely helps. Imagine how full we would be if we weren’t transporting them,” he added.
“I know some of these dogs that we transport could get adopted here. Because of the volume (we have), it wouldn’t happen fast enough for us to be able to stay no-kill.”
More volunteers welcome
The Gilmer County Animal Shelter welcomes volunteers to help clean up, walk shelter dogs, assist in the facility’s cat rooms and to help transport animals, Peaden said.
Anyone interested in volunteering can call 706-635-2166 for more details or stop by the shelter, which also accepts donations of towels, rags, paper towels, bleach, dog food and cat food, he added.
FOGAS also welcomes new volunteers, said group member Susan Leibert. Anyone interested in joining can email FOGASNow@etc.mail.com or visiting FOGASNow.com for further details.
The nonprofit group meets the first Monday of each month at the Gilmer County Library and all meetings are open to the public.
In an effort to help reduce the number of stray and unwanted animals in the county, FOGAS was recently able to sell 20 discounted spay/neuter certificates at the East Ellijay Tractor Supply store, Leibert confirmed.
Those who purchased one of the $25 certificates will be able to take their dogs to the Gilmer County Civic Center July 26, where Dr. Craig Chester, of Animal Medical Clinic in Jasper, will perform the procedures.
All discount spay/neuter certificates have been sold and the July 26 clinic will not be open to anyone but those who’ve already purchased a certificate, Leibert said.
“Dr. Chester will be spay/neutering 20 dogs in one day. FOGAS will pay the difference between the owner’s certificate and what he charges,” she added. “We are an all-volunteer organization. We don’t make anything. Every single dime (we raise) goes to the animal shelter.”