The Walker County Humane Society (WCHS) is looking for the community's help to ensure dogs in need are provided with shelter as cooler temperatures are approaching.
WCHS announced this week that they are currently accepting in-kind donations of dog houses that can be provided to pet owners who need assistance to keep their dogs warm during the winter months.
The animal rescue organization is seeking used plastic or wooden dog houses that are still in good condition, and donations of new houses are also greatly appreciated.
WCHS Board Director Susie Vann said the organization typically gives 15 to 20 dog houses away to dog owners each year. Those in need are typically identified by law enforcement officials, other organizations and good samaritans.
Aside from the obvious motivation of keeping pets warm during cold weather, Vann said they also distribute dog houses to simply help enforce Alabama law that states pet owners can't deny a dog adequate shelter.
According to Code of Alabama 13A-11-241, "A person commits the crime of cruelty to a dog or cat in the second degree if he or she, in a cruel manner, overloads, overdrives, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, unnecessarily or cruelly beats, injuries, mutilates, or causes the same to be done."
"It's a privedege to own an animal. It's not mandatory. It's strictly a privilege," Vann said. "There comes a lot of responsibility with that privilege. If you've got a dog chained out that can't get somewhere for shelter or can't get out of the cold, you have to provide for them, and again, state law requires that."
She continued, "It's against the law if you're not doing it, and it's inhumane if you're not doing it."
In addition to WCHS striving to make sure dogs are sheltered in frigid conditions, the organization makes feral cat houses each winter. Vann said they provided housing for three feral cat colonies in Walker County last year; however, many of the houses they made were stolen.
Vann said she and other WCHS board members make the feral cat houses by cutting a hole in the side of a large, plastic storage box. The box is then insulated using a styrofoam cooler and straw or hay. Finally the lid to the box is secured using duct tape.
WCHS said items may be donated to make the feral cat houses as well.
The organization recently celebrated a $4,000 grant from Cawaco Resource Conservation & Development Council that is being used to purchase a tranquilizer gun, four trapping nets, four sets of bite gloves and some professional traps and crates. WCHS will use the items to capture stray dogs and cats in the county that may be in distress and in situations where animals are difficult to approach.
In fact, in September, the WCHS loaned two of their traps to the Daily Mountain Eagle office, which allowed staff members to trap a mother cat and her kittens that were at the property. The cats are now in loving homes, and one kitten remains in foster care with WCHS.
The organization also has cats and kittens they have rescued available for adoption at Pet Depot in Jasper. The partnership with the pet store has resulted in the adoption of over 500 cats and kittens in Walker County.
In-kind donations of dog houses and supplies to make feral cat houses can be made by emailing WCHS at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (205) 302-6911. Monetary donations can also be made through those methods or by mail to Walker County Humane Society, P.O. Box 1407, Jasper, Alabama 35502.
Donations are tax deductible.