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Big changes coming for Huntsville Animal Services as kennels remain empty

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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.


  • Lin

    Kudos to HAS for finding the silver lining on a very black cloud! Having worked with animal rescue groups for 20+ years, I am very glad to see that HAS is looking to make positive changes both in the facilities and in the mindset at the shelter. To be honest, most animal shelters (HAS included) are very depressing places to go, and I think people avoid them for that reason. Also, I think there is a misconception that animals at a shelter are unwanted and unsuitable as pets, whereas animals in shelters are usually seen in a better light. I’ve seen a lot of positive changes from HAS in the past few years, and I applaud the plans that are set forth in this news article.

  • Jim

    Very sad that the comment was made to adopt from shelters NOT rescues, when many local rescues PULL from HAS in an effort to help save lives. To make the statement NOT to support them when they are helping local shelters just does not make any sense to me.

  • mamac

    they need a better environment they need grass under there feet and a great big walking area at all times. They need to be able to inter act with the other animals and play and then the ones that are SCARED of the bigger dogs have them at a different area .I know some dogs are afraid of other dogs and if that is happening now they should be housed in different locations.Cause how would someone like to be by a bully all the time.Now, you ask how! Well ALL the CRIMINALS that have committed abuse to the animals make them come in as part as there restitution to help clean and walk the animals and bath them ect…And then let ALL the MONEY that they have to pay the court go to the animal shelter for food,bowls,toys, a better play area. Instead of GIVING the money to Judge or the “justice system”…

  • Jim

    Hope that comment was corrected because it was a type-o. Now it reads “shelters AND rescues” instead of “shelters, not rescues”. Rescues are a critical partner to our local shelters.

    • Beth Jett

      Hi Jim! Yes, it was a typo.. Glad to correct it and glad you are watching WHNT and reading our stories on! Thanks for your interest!
      Beth Jett, WHNT NEWS 19

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