Foothills Humane Society is a shelter to love

The Foothills Humane Society, which holds the animal control contract to take in all strays for Western NC’s Polk County as well as northern Greenville and Spartanburg counties of South Carolina, is proof that animal control in North Carolina doesn’t have to be about killing. FHS did not kill a single pet during the month of November 2012, and the year-to-date live release rate is 98.96%. (The 2011 FHS live release rate was 97.8%.)

Not only that, but unlike every other animal control facility in North Carolina, FHS has a live-release rate for cats that is as good and often better than the rate for dogs. While pounds all over the state are rounding up and killing feral cats by the thousands, FHS is saving them through its Po’ Kitties TNR program.

Seems like a shelter folks could love, right? That’s why I nominated it for a “Shelter We Love” award, given annually by HSUS puppet group NC Voters for Animal Welfare.

I heard back right away from NCVAW Secretary and HSUS NC director Kim Alboum, who wrote: “The Shelters We Love Program does not focus on euthanasia rates.  If it did we would be unable to provide awards for our open admission shelters that cannot turn animals away.”

So much for standards, I guess. Wouldn’t it be a worthwhile goal to encourage these pounds to put in the hard work to change from pet killing facilities to lifesaving shelters? Instead, HSUS and NCVAW prefer to peddle the worn-out lie that saving pets is impossible at open-admission shelters, which is repeatedly being proven false with increasing regularity. Currently, open-admission shelters in at least 83 (and counting) communities across the country have proven it’s possible to save all healthy and treatable pets that come in each year, reserving euthanasia only for its true purpose of ending irremediable suffering.

But it’s as if Kim Alboum and colleagues stick their fingers in their ears and sing “Mary Had A Little Lamb” at the top of their lungs any time it’s mentioned so they can pretend it’s not happening. Meanwhile, they give awards every year to some of the worst kill pounds North Carolina has to offer.

Winners in 2012 included the very high-kill Davidson County pound, a house of horrors where in 2011 almost 88% of the pets taken in were gassed to death.  Also honored in 2012 was the Randolph County pound, where the gas chamber kill rate actually went UP from 2010 to 2011.

Randolph County

The gas chamber at the Randolph County pound, an NC Voters for Animal Welfare  “Shelter We Love.”  (Photo by Flickr user NCCHE).

Winners for 2011 included the Johnston County gas chamber pound (2010 kill rate: 76.8%; 2011 kill rate: 75.36%), Charlotte-Mecklenburg pound (2010 kill rate: 63.27%; 2011 kill rate 64.31%) and the Guilford County pound (2010 kill rate: 42.06%, 2011 kill rate: 47.93%).

Based on that record, I predict the 2013 awards will go to Montgomery, Ashe and Surry counties.

But if FixNC had an award to bestow (maybe someday),  it would go to Foothills Humane Society, who have thrown away the excuses and blame-the-public mentality and proven that No Kill animal control is possible in rural North Carolina.


Filed under North Carolina Voters For Animal Welfare, Polk County

14 responses to “Foothills Humane Society is a shelter to love

  1. bettyjean

    So Foothills is open admission?

    • Yes, they are open-admission. They take all strays from their service area, and while they have some policies to try to limit their intake of owner surrenders, they will not turn a dog away from their service area, according to director Selena Coffey:

      Our owner surrender policy states that we cannot take owner surrenders outside of our service area, which includes Polk County, North Carolina and the northern jurisdictions of Spartanburg and Greenville Counties in South Carolina, including Gowansville, Campobello, and Landrum. We accept all owner surrenders within this service area, regardless of medical condition or behavior, if we have space. However, because we are almost always limited in space, we often have to put the surrenders on an owner turn in list. While asking the owners to keep the animals (if at all possible) until we can get them into the shelter, we provide the owners with food assistance and/or free spay-neuter surgeries before they come to us. We’ve found that some owners will keep their animals for a period of time if we provide them this type of assistance. If the owner will absolutely not keep the animal until we can get it into the shelter, we will service them in and expeditiously look for a rescue and/or foster home for the animal. This makes for many challenges, because we simply do not want to turn the animals away if we have any other choice whatsoever.

  2. Kim Alboum’s response is sick. Foothill’s is an OPEN admission shelter. They clearly deserve the award. Oh but that’s right if this no kill thing catches on to more shelters then HSUS can’t showcase ads and be paid for advertising by those death merchants like Fatal Plus. Their house of cards could just all fall down. Maybe HSUS/NCVAW requisites for the award include which shelter has employees they can hide behind and sue people for speaking out against kill shelter travesties?

  3. Tonya

    Foothills shelter is a crown jewel of this community! We are so lucky to have it, but the only reason it works is due to dedicated staff, local vets, and volunteers, as well as, many benefactors. This community values animals and it shows in the care that is given at Foothills. It takes a community and a mindset which has spread from Foothills over the years. It’s hard to get these kind of results if the community isn’t behind you, and it is clearly behind Foothills.

  4. theresa

    why do they use a gas chamber to KILL these poor helpless innocent animals. if they insist on killing why not humanely. makes me sick and sad for these animals

  5. FHS is a shelter in the truest sense of the word. Their Po’Kitties program is one program that is a model for nearby areas. As a citizen of Spartanburg County, I look to FHS/Po’ Kitties for solutions in my home area. Due ,in part ,to their willingness to share insight and expertise , the city of Spartanburg’s Animal Services recently kicked off a free TNR program.FHS , I salute you!

  6. I work at the HSUS, and wanted to post the rest of the reply given, as it’s not above. I think it’s important to include, as the nomination for Foothills Humane is being considered. I don’t want to hijack the thread here, so will just paste the rest of the response to the nomination below.

    “That being said the Foothills Humane Society has many wonderful community outreach programs and does a great job with spay/neuter. Frankly, I was very surprised that they were not nominated last year. I talked with them on several occasions and they are a perfect example of what a community can do if they work together. Thanks for submitting Foothills for consideration.”

    • Foothills is a perfect example of what can be achieved when dedicated and compassionate shelter leadership discards all of the lies about No Kill being impossible, stops hiding behind excuses and blaming the public for the killing and makes a commitment to protecting the lives of shelter pets.

  7. Pingback: Lies, hypocrisy and death | FixNC

  8. Carol

    I do like that this Shelter has kept their adoption fees at a reasonable level and also includes S/N, vaccinations, etc for all adopted pets. Refreshing to see a non-profit that isn’t trying to make up all their expenses through adoption fees. Again, this non-profit must have a great bunch of members and volunteers who work very hard at what they do.

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