Big changes coming for Huntsville Animal Services as kennels remain empty


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Huntsville Animal Shelter is still not accepting pets after an illness hit them July 22nd.

Workers continue to scrub walls and floors to get rid of any bacteria and viruses, but that’s not all going on.   There are some big changes in the works for the shelter and staff.

On a weekday morning, there are no sad eyes and no desperate cries coming from the kennels inside Huntsville Animal Services (HAS).

“As empty as the shelter is now, this is the way it should always be,” said Huntsville City Administrator John Hamilton.

The empty kennels are energizing the staff at HAS to find alternatives for homeless pets.

“We had such a positive reaction from our community,” said Karen Buchan, HAS animal care supervisor.

The community reached out to take home animals from the shelter when an illness spread through it on July 22nd.  Since then, the staff has had time to clean and strategize on how to keep the kennels empty.

“Our community should be looking to adopt their pets out of shelters, and rescues,” said Hamilton.  “If we don’t have one at the animal shelter that’s to their liking, go to the Humane Society.  If you’re looking for a cat, go to Challenger’s House, go to A New Leash on Life.

HAS Staff is working under the guidance of Huntsville City Administrator John Hamilton.

“We have a real need to get cats adopted out,” Hamilton insisted.  “The cat population has gotten bigger than it needs to be.”

This is one of Hamilton’s ‘pet projects’, so to speak.

“You will see us continue to increase the really visible adoption events,” he said of the city’s commitment to supporting HAS.

He wants improvements to the building to make it healthier for the animals, which will make it easier for adoption.  “The mechanical system needs to be renovated.  We need to get better space to segregate the dogs from the cats, so that work is going on right now.  Our engineers are developing designs and studying exactly how the building needs to be renovated.”

Meanwhile, shelter workers are making it harder for someone to simply give up a pet.

“We like to talk to them about other alternatives,” said Buchan.  “Maybe we can set you up with an obedience class if it’s a behavior issue.  If it’s financial, we can get you free food.”

On August 12th, the staff will kick off longer hours on Tuesdays to accomodate more people willing to take home a companion.

The shelter will be open late hours and will be set up with family and children activities, refreshments and plenty of animals in need of forever homes.

Then, moving forward, every Tuesday, the shelter hours will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Also, for the next two weeks, cats can be adopted for $35, which includes spaying or neutering, vaccinations and a microchip.  That’s a savings of $45.

HAS is also working on establishing a hotline for people to call if they have questions about care for an animal.  Staff is already putting out a request for volunteers to help them staff the hotline.

There are other opportunities to volunteer at HAS.  For example, they are always needing help with on-site adoption events.

Call Huntsville Animal Services at (256) 883-3782 for more information.


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