Flying across the country, looking out the window at vast areas of land passing by, is undoubtedly a macro view, quite distinct from the view on an interstate highway and even more dissimilar to the views on the old highways that transported us before more modern forms of transportation. The old highways are best in my book when you have the time to travel and are not rushing.
At the outset, let me thank Ms. Linda Patelski, the director of our Lowndes County Animal Shelter, and her team for coming to my aid and providing our Shelter’s statistics on an ongoing basis with professionalism and courtesy without ever grumbling personally to me. I could not have completed my work without her. She was a miracle worker, and I have nothing but admiration for the assistance she and her Shelter Team provided me in the line of duty. I appreciate a working relationship based on mutual respect and love for our county and the animals we are concerned about. We are all dedicated to animals and the issues and joys they bring to us personally and our community.
Looking at the total number of animals adopted through our Lowndes County Animal Shelter, totaling 458 animals, or our Shelter’s collaborative efforts with three very impressive and local Animal Rescue Warrior organizations for 2023, that pulled or rescued an additional 1,333 animals, totaling 1,791 animals that were given a chance at life through the dedicated work of our Animal Shelter Team, and by three remarkable Animal Welfare Warrior organizations:
Valdosta-Lowndes Humane Society was compellingly in First Place; United Saving Animals Rescue, commonly known as USA Rescue, was in Second Place, and Paws Furever Homes was in Third Place. That is the macro view, traveling at 35,000 feet and whizzing by, but let us pause and look deeper, taking the more scenic highway where we can see more and enjoy it longer.
Now, let’s dig a bit deeper into the numbers for 2023 and look at how our Shelter Team worked closely with three very impressive Animal Welfare Warrior organizations to pull animals out of a very busy animal shelter, thereby reducing the risks of contagion, sickness, and disease, depression, and that ugly, but gloomily necessary task, at this time, of euthanizing unwanted, sick, feral, aggressive, or disabled animals and the like created by an oversupply of animals caused by uncontrolled overbreeding whether intentional or negligently allowed by the citizens in our community.
There were 3,549 live intakes in 2023; sadly, 995 animals were euthanized, and an additional 363 animals were euthanized at the request of their owners, totaling 1,358 animals. Now that we have the dreadful part about euthanasia out of the way, my focus is on the 1,792 animals that were removed from our Shelter, totaling 1,334 animals that were pulled by animal rescues and the 458 animals adopted through our Shelter, or 50% of the 3,549 intakes. This is very good, and we should be delighted that though we are not where we want to be, our community has a strong relationship with our Shelter and animal rescue organizations.
As stated, the 995 animals euthanized by our Shelter consisted of 700 dogs and puppies, plus 295 cats and kittens. No one likes to observe the euthanasia statistics that are inevitable when our Shelter is overflowing with incoming animals of every type. Our Shelter is the victim here due to irresponsible animal welfare responsibilities throughout the county. When breeding is out of control, and there are too many animals for adoption, sadly, innocent lives suffer. Further, dangerous or aggressive dogs or animals and other circumstances involving contagious disease, sickness, being deemed unadoptable, and the like cannot be released into the community.
Our Shelter ended 2023 with 52 dogs and 26 cats in residence awaiting disposition through adoption, rescue, return to owner, or euthanasia.
Now, the best part of my article follows. In First Place with rescues from our Shelter was the Humane Society of Valdosta-Lowndes, located at 1740 W. Gordon Street, Valdosta, GA 31601, 229.247.3266, rescuing 985 animals, consisting of 544 kittens, 181 cats, 141 dogs, and 119 puppies that were saved from the risks of harm, or 73.9% of the 1,333 rescues pulled from our Animal Shelter in 2033. Isn’t that remarkable?
In Second Place was United Saving Animals Rescue, 3460 Brandon Drive, Valdosta, GA 31636, 229.223.6913, with 165 animals rescued, or 12.4%, consisting of 111 dogs, 43 puppies, three cats, and eight kittens.
In Third Place was Paws Furever Homes, 5009 Antioch Road, Adel, GA 31620, 229.896.7492, with 146 animals pulled or rescued, or 11% of the animals rescued during 2023, consisting of 24 cats and 122 kittens.
These three animal rescue warrior organizations collectively pulled 1,296 animals from our shelter in 2023, totaling 97.3% of all animals pulled by rescuers during the year, with the remaining 2.7% pulled by other rescues. This is nothing short of remarkable, and my foundation will be presenting awards to these three animal rescue organizations, Ms. Linda Patelski, the director, and her team at our Lowndes County Animal Shelter at an appropriate time in the future. Any organization that has such a significant impact on our community deserves to be honored. In short, they earned it!
I have the following statement on the Burton Fletcher Foundation website, www.BurtonFletcherFoundation.org, which I made a while ago. After you read it, I think you will now better understand its meaning to me and why I feel this way:
“I have found the people in Animal Rescue to be the most caring, dedicated, and self-sacrificing individuals I have ever known. I am proud to associate myself with them and to walk in their shadows.” Prof. Burton Fletcher, J.D., MBA (Ret.)
This is nothing short of miraculous. I adopted one of my rescues, Walker, the mascot of the Burton Fletcher Foundation for Animals, from the Humane Society of Valdosta-Lowndes. I also adopted another rescue, Mac, from United Saving Animals Rescue, which I often hear referred to as USA Rescue. Both rescues are based in Valdosta and Lowndes County. Paws Furever Homes is based in Adel and demonstrates how animal rescue organizations work across county lines to rescue animals.
If you have not donated, sponsored, fostered, adopted, or volunteered with my foundation, these folks, or other animal rescue organizations, I encourage you to do so. As someone referred to me and my foundation when I started, “They’re the real deal!” These animal welfare warrior organizations, made up of hardworking, dedicated volunteers, are remarkable, and our Shelter Team also successfully adopted 458 animals through our Shelter.
This means the public is willing to drive a short distance south of Valdosta to save innocent lives. When you have a moment, please drop by our Lowndes County Animal Shelter during visiting hours to seek their selection of available animals and to thank them. Please tell them that Burton Fletcher recommended that you do so. Also, please make an appointment with these fabulous animal rescuers to look at their selection of animals, thank them, and perhaps volunteer and donate. Please always remember that we do what we do for the animals, which is a good feeling.
The Burton Fletcher Foundation for Animals, a 501 ©(3) nonprofit relying on donations from the public, is an animal rescue organization focused on advocacy for animals in need, especially in Lowndes County, and an ongoing public promoter of spaying, neutering, fostering, and adoption, rather than buying our furry pet pals, and serving as an award-giver, publicity generator and cheerleader for South Georgia and North Central Florida animal shelters, animal rescue warriors, whether acting individually, in teams, or through formal animal rescue organizations.
Currently, the Burton Fletcher Foundation for Animals has our Third Annual Animal Welfare Heroes 2024 Competition ongoing through noon on February 15th for nominations of individuals and organizations, whether in animal shelters, animal rescue organizations, or from one person to a team who works together. This is your opportunity to nominate our Animal Shelter, staff, volunteers, and animal rescue organizations for the public recognition they deserve and don’t receive anywhere else.
The rules for this contest can be obtained directly through the foundation’s website in the Contest Section, www.BurtonFletcherFoundation.org. We need researchers, writers, editors, award certificate creators, designers, copyrighters, and fundraisers, so please offer your skills if you would like to join us as we work to save lives. Saving lives is more than the activities inside our Shelter. It also involves a lot of challenging work from volunteers like us who prove our values through our actions. Please help us benefit the animals we love in our incredible South Georgia cities and counties.
Burton Fletcher, JD, MBA, President, Burton Fletcher Foundation for Animals, Inc.