Charles Smithgall Humane Society searching for homes with a heart
“We’re an advocate for the animals, first and foremost.”
This is how Glenda Worley, a volunteer and board member at the Charles Smithgall Humane Society (CSHS), describes the local no-kill shelter for dogs and cats. CSHS takes owner-surrendered animals and those from other shelters. From 2010 to 2019, the humane society has rescued 2,960 and had 2,894 adoptions, said Carol Hergert, a board member.
Worley says by helping the animals, they can also help community members. She recalls a woman who once came in after losing her home and was looking for a place to stay.
“The only thing she had that belonged to her was her cat, Butterball. She came in and said, ‘Can you all just keep my cat until I find a place?’ A group was helping her to find a place, so we knew she was legit. So we said yes, of course we will,” Worley says. “So we took her cat in. I think we had it for a week, maybe two weeks, while she found her place and then she came back and sure enough got her cat. When she was here picking the cat up, she thanked us for being able to help her out … She said, ‘This is my family.’”
CSHS also checks with another local shelter.
“We work very close with animal control, White County Animal Control,” she says. “We love those people over there. They do a great job and whenever they have animals going down they will call us, and I’ll go over and look at the dogs, kind of do a quick evaluation and bring them, what we can, we save as many as we can.”
The shelter usually has about 60-75 animals but can hold a maximum of 80, she says. Sometimes the animals don’t stay for too long.
“We have a good [adoption] turnaround on dogs and getting better turnaround on our cats,” she says. “That’s just the nature of a shelter. Dogs go faster than cats do.”
Worley acknowledges that some believe the CSHS has strict policies related to animal adoption, but says there’s a reason for them.
“We see a lot of good, and we see a lot of bad,” she says. “That’s what leads to the policies that we have. We have a very stringent adoption policy. Some people, you either love it or you hate it. That’s kind of the response I get.”
When a potential family is going through the adoption process, one of the requirements is a home visit to check for safety issues, and veterinarian references. If the adopter has another pet, they’ll do a meet-and-greet with the animals.
“Everything we do there’s a reason behind it,” she says. “I always try to explain to people we’re not trying to be ugly, we’re not trying to be mean or keep you from getting a dog. We want wonderful homes for our dogs. But we are first and foremost an advocate for the animal.”
Worley stresses that it is not personal when doing a home visit. They just know the animals well and don’t want to set them up for failure.
“Somebody will want a big dog, but they don’t have a fenced yard,” she says. “But they’re home fronts a major road like Helen Highway like we do right here. We won’t approve that dog for adoption in most instances. Now there are and have been exceptions, but in most instances we don’t because we feel like we’re setting the dogs up. We learn from that because that’s what we would have done in the past and did do in the past, and six months later somebody came in and go ‘Oh, my dog got ran over. Can we adopt another one?’”
The CSHS relies on two main fundraisers, Worley says. That includes an annual golf tournament and a twice-a-year yard sale. They also received donations that help them take care of the animals.
“We get people who have adopted from us before and are very good to our shelter and they’ll come in [and ask], ‘Do you have a special needs cat or a special needs dog that needs medical attention?’ Worley says. “So we have special donors that do that and shelters, we live on a shoestring budget, we truly, truly do.”
Along with paying staff, the shelter has a medical fund that goes beyond providing rabies vaccines and spaying and neutering services, along for treatment of other animal illnesses. (If an owner is surrendering their dog and the animal is not current on heartworm, Worley says they ask that person to get a heartworm test because it’s an expensive medical issue.)
The Charles Smithgall Humane Society’s address is 4823 Ga. 75 N. (on Helen Highway), Sautee Nacoochee. Those interested in adopting an animal or making a donation can call 706-865-4135 or visit www.charlessmithgallhumanesociety.org.