Stories produced by students in the Meek School of Journalism & New Media
By Maggie McDaniel
According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) there are about 5,000 shelters nationwide, and about 5 to 7 million animals enter the shelters each year.
“It’s ridiculous. No one should ever buy an animal from a pet store or breeder until we have more control over how many homeless animals there are,” says Hillary Taylor, a senior at the University of Mississippi and an employee at the Oxford Humane Society.
The Humane Society in Oxford has been rescuing animals since 1982.
According to Cindy Leigh, a board member and one of the founders of the Humane Society in Oxford, the organization saves about 40 to 60 animals lives each year.
When the Humane Society takes in cats or dogs, workers evaluate the animals’ health and then puts them in a kennel to let them stay until they are adopted or transferred to another shelter.
“We have many different fundraisers to keep the shelter going. We have ‘Paws for Art,’ where local artists donate their work for us to sell. We also have ‘Strut your mutt,’ which is where you walk your dog from the courthouse to the university,” says Leigh.
With the help of these fundraisers the organization is hoping to soon add on an additional room for office space and a place to throw birthday parties for animals.
“It’s a fun job, but also a very difficult, emotional and stressful. Adoption is a wonderful thing that needs to happen and be advertised more often. If you could sit in the lobby of the shelter for one day and see how many adult dogs, litters of puppies and cats come in, you would see how many homeless animals there are,” says Taylor.
Mary Margaret Keys, a freshman at the University of Mississippi, adopted her dog Puddin about seven years ago from a shelter in her hometown in Florida.
“I remember when we first adopted Puddin, it was really sad because my family was told she had been beaten as a puppy and left of the side of the road,” says Keys.
The Keys’ family went on to adopt two more dogs from the same shelter.
“I think adopting an animal from a shelter is the best form of adoption, pet stores are too expensive and you do not get the satisfaction of knowing that you possibly saved an animal’s life,” says Keys.
Currently in the U.S., 20 to 30 percent of cats and dogs are adopted from shelters and 2 to 10 percent are adopted from pet stores. Taylor would rather see the pet store percentage drop to zero.
“No one should ever buy an animal from a pet store or breeder until we have more control over how many homeless animals there are.”
Cindy Leigh, a board member and one of the founders of the Humane Society in Oxford, describes the care of the animals.