Featured Rescue: Kelli Miller from Haywood Animal Services

Please give a big ACW welcome to Kelli Miller from Haywood Animal Services!

Kelli, please tell us more about your organization.

1.How long has the shelter been operating, and what motivated its establishment?

The Haywood County Animal Shelter has been in operation for over 30 years and began as a means of rabies control. Animal sheltering has greatly evolved over the years and has expanded into rehoming and rescue. Our new facility has been in operation for 5 years.

2.How many cats do you typically have in your care at any given time, and what types of cats do you rescue (e.g., strays, abused, abandoned)?

Our facility is equipped with 62 cat kennels and 2 group cat rooms. We also have various cages for overflow. At any given time, we house anywhere from 60 to 100+ cats and kittens. As a local government facility, we are required to accept stray cats from the all over Haywood County, which includes cats and kittens of all ages, health statuses, dispositions, and backgrounds. When space is available, we will accept cats from owners wishing to rehome their pets; however, our priority is to house the homeless pet population until permanent homes are found. We must also house cats that have bitten as a means of rabies control. The quarantine period is 10 days; after which, animals are assessed for adoption.

3. How do you assess and prioritize the cats need for medical attention, socialization, and Rehoming?

Our intake staff are trained to assess basic medical concerns such as flea infestations, body condition, upper respiratory, and other common ailments seen in the shelter. All cats receive an initial FVRCP vaccine, deworming, and rabies vaccine on intake, if age appropriate. Kittens, under six months, receive ponazuril and secnidazole to treat for coccidia and giardia on intake. Medical staff is notified immediately of any emergency conditions such as injuries or wounds. Other concerns noted by staff members during intake or kennel rounds are placed on an exam list which is reviewed daily. Our medical staff works closely with a veterinarian to see that all issues are treated to the best of our ability and within a timely manner. We have an excellent working relationship with Animal Hospital of Waynesville which provides treatment beyond what the shelter is capable of.

4. Are there behavioral assessments to match kitties and potential adopters? What do you look for? Do you offer support to adopters after they take a cat home?

As a government entity, we have a very open adoption policy. Our adoption counselors, as well as all staff members, take part in assessing behavior, tracking enrichment, and matching cats with potential adopters. Rather than require an application for adoption, our staff are encouraged to have open conversations with potential adopters to determine their lifestyles and what they are looking for in a new cat/kitten. We then introduce them to potential matches and encourage them to spend one-on-one time with them in our meet and greet room. Ultimately, it is the adopter’s decision as to which pet they pick. Our staff have complied an array of handouts for our adoption packets that outline everything from pet introductions to body language and beyond. We pride ourselves in providing educational material for adopters to make successful and lasting matches. Our adoption counselors are available to answer questions and offer advice even after adoption to help ease the transition for both people and Pets.

5. Do you have any specific programs or initiatives in place to promote the adoption of older cats or cats with special needs?

Most of our senior or special needs cats we try to find a rescue to take in. Being a county/government entity, we are limited in what we can provide for each individual. We are getting a lot better at being able to provide necessary medical needs such as dentals, amputations, mass/tumor removals/etc. due to the support of Friends of the Haywood County Animal Shelter. Hcasfriends.org For those special needs and seniors we do have we do not have any separate type of program in place, yet. We are improving so much, but have a long way to go still. I think for the most part, posting those that need “extra” to groups such as ACW has really done the best so far.

6. How are volunteers involved in your shelter, and what roles do they play in caring for the cats? How would someone apply?

We have recently instituted and filled a Community Outreach Coordinator position. This position handles all the volunteer and foster programs. For anyone over the age of 18 they would email Kristen Laesser @ Kristen.laesser@haywoodcountync.gov Each individual will go through an orientation and then through a series of mentored training. Our cats are color-coded based on temperament/behavior/etc.. Volunteers are allowed to take cats to a playroom daily for exercise or do in kennel enrichment. Assessments are done by a staff member for proper color-coding so volunteers know which cats need what based on the cat’s level of comfort for different enrichment.

7. Are there any success stories or particularly heartwarming adoption stories that you’d like to share? We would also be glad to feature a long-term baby who hasn’t found a home yet, in hopes of finding a furever home.

Since the start of 2020, we are 100 % save rate for feral cats due to our barn/working cat program. Unfortunately there are shelters still out there that even when approached by a rescue to pull, they refuse to comply. It is so heartbreaking knowing that currently tnr and cat programs are still so behind. I am so proud of the work our team has done to help promote the needs of all types of cats.

8. How do you fund your operations? Do you depend on donations or other sources of funding? How can people contribute to your organization?

Standard operations are government funded – this includes the basics such as office and janitorial supplies, food, and standard medical needs. We are very fortunate to have management and government leaders that support the mission of our shelter and understand the importance of caring for stray animals. We also have an amazing community that steps forward anytime there are additional needs. We often look to the community to help provide kitten food, enrichment items, bedding, and even medical care. We have a non-profit, Friends of Haywood County Animal Shelter, that raises funds for community outreach and medical needs requiring more than what is budgeted for. We rely heavily on our supporters to help give the cats and kittens in our care the best chance for a happily ever after.

Donations can be made in a number of ways:

  1. Cash/Check/Supplies to 453 Jones Cove Road, Clyde, NC 28721
  2. Online using PayPal or Debit/Credit at https://hcasfriends.org/
  3. Checks mailed to PO Box 142 Waynesville 28786

We will be featuring many other rescues in our WNC area, in the months to come. If you’d like to tell your organization’s story, please contact ashevillecatweirdos@gmail.com

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