Proverbs 12:10

"The righteous one is caring for the soul of his domestic animal." Proverbs 12:10

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Charitable fund established for Union County Animal Shelter

Animals such as Lacey, a golden retriever (right) surrendered by her owner to the shelter this past spring, are being helped by a new charitable fund.

By Deborah Parkhill Mullis

Friends of the Union County Animal Shelter Inc., a new charitable fund, is dedicated to meeting the medical needs of animals in the county shelter.

“The county doesn’t fund - nor could it afford to fund - treatment for every single dog or cat that comes through here with some kind of illness, disease or injury but this (charity) that we’ve established is going to allow that,” said Lt. Michelle Starnes, who has worked diligently to establish a charity for the shelter since she became director of Union County Animal Services less than two years ago.

In the past, money donated to the shelter was deposited into the county’s general fund. If the shelter needed to purchase anything for the animals, there was a lot of paper work involved in getting that money back, explained Starnes.

That's one reason the shelter started accepting gifts in-kind from supporters. Now, through Friends of the Union County Animal Shelter, animal lovers can be confident their cash donations will directly benefit shelter animals.

Common ailment, expensive treatment

Establishing the charitable fund means more animals can be deemed adoptable - animals like Lacey, a golden retriever surrendered by her owner to the shelter this past spring.

“She was a beautiful dog - less than 2 years old - with a good temperament. The only thing wrong with her was that she was heartworm positive,” recalled Starnes. “The number of animals that come into the shelter that are heartworm positive each year are in the couple hundreds. If you multiply that by the cost of treatment, it gets very expensive,” she said.

Expensive indeed. Veterinarian Heidi Hutmaker said heartworm treatment at Atrium Animal Hospital in Pineville typically costs between $500 and $1,000, depending on the size of the dog and the stage of the disease. The drug used to kill heartworms costs $55.00 per injection; and in most cases it takes two to six injections to eradicate the disease. Charges for pain medications, diagnostic tests and boarding fees are often associated with treatment, she said. Heartworm treatment costs are similar at Sun Valley Animal Hospital in Indian Trail, according to veterinarian David Hudson.

Today Lacey is undergoing heartworm treatment and doing well, thanks to Friends of the Union County Animal Shelter. Once she has completed her treatment, she will leave the shelter and be adopted through a golden retriever rescue group, said Starnes.

Microchips, quilts add to charity fund

Friends of the Union County Animal Shelter recently purchased equipment that allows it to offer affordable microchip implantation and pet registration. “The microchip company has a special program for shelters, so even (paying) $15 for the microchip and $15 to register in the company’s data base, (leaves) a profit that goes back into the charitable fund, ” explained Starnes, noting that microchips are a great tool for finding lost pets. She urges pet owners to update their information in the data base whenever they relocate.

To raise money for the fund, two handmade quilts have been donated to the charity and raffle tickets are being sold. One quilt is on display at the animal shelter and the other is traveling to different events and locations around the county until December, when they will both be raffled off.

A large portion of the money received by the charity has been earmarked for a remodeling project that will result in an on-site spay/neuter clinic for shelter animals. The charity will honor requests by supporters to fund specific needs such as heartworm treatment.

For information about raffle tickets or to make an appointment to have your pet implanted with a microchip, call the shelter at 704-283-2308. Donations to the charitable fund should be made payable to Friends of the Union County Animal Shelter, Inc. and mailed to the attention of Lt. Michelle Starnes, Union County Animal Services, 3340 Presson Road, Monroe, NC 28112.

Deborah is a freelance writer living in Indian Trail, NC with her husband, two children, two dogs and one cat. This article was published in Union County Weekly, Volume 2, Number 30 * July 27- Aug. 2, 2007 ( Send your dog-related news to or add your comments about the above story by clicking on the link below.

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