The Catoosa County Animal Shelter is in need of help. Fliers scattered throughout Ringgold request donations to help supply the shelter's pantry.
Shelter staff said they hope county residents will stop by and drop off needed items to assist them in caring for the influx of adoptable kittens, cats, puppies and dogs brought into the shelter. The list details needs of unflavored Pedialyte; blankets; small throws; towels; double-sided food pans; cat litter pans; dog and cat flea collars; canned or dry food for kittens, cats, puppies and dogs; non-rawhide pet treats; cat litter; flea shampoo and dips; rubber toys; and baking soda. Donations are tax-deductible.
"Come by with donated items or we will pick the donations up," said shelter Director Sheree Horton. "We provide donation receipts. We really need cat litter pans - large and small ones - flea collars and flea treatment the most."
Horton said the shelter is also always in search of willing volunteers to help care for the pets.
Catoosa Citizens for Animal Care volunteers take some of the shelter's kittens, cats, puppies and dogs to foster in their own and others' homes in an attempt to help find them "furever" homes. The CCAC posts photos of the shelter's pets online in an attempt to find more people willing to adopt pets.
The Catoosa Citizens group also helps pet owners on limited incomes by providing pet supplies and spay or neuter fees.
"People need to spay and neuter their pets," said Horton. "Wally's Friends in Red Bank does the procedure at low cost. Wally's Friends volunteers pick up pets at the Lowe's in Fort Oglethorpe once per month to transport them to have the procedure."
She said the shelter works with a total of 131 rescue services spanning from North Carolina to Tennessee to Georgia and into Florida in an attempt to adopt out the unwanted pets in its care.
"We need people to adopt black cats and dogs," said Horton, adding that most people choose other pets. "People usually prefer female dogs and cats over male dogs and cats. We have an 81 percent adoption success rate for the shelter dogs. We would like to work with more cat rescue services. We take in an average of 15 to 30 cats and kittens per day."
She said this time of year is when the shelter sees an influx of kittens; right now the shelter has six kittens.
Catoosa County interim City Manager/Human Resources Director Ann Cain said adopting a pet means the owner receives unconditional love from his or her new best friend. But they must be willing to give as well.
"Pets need a lot of care, love and attention like a child," said Cain. "Working at the Catoosa County Animal Shelter is a double-edged sword. You can't get too close to the animals and you are sad to see neglected animals that come in. The reason why pets end up in a shelter is because their owner was not responsible enough to take care of them."
Horton said Catoosa County Animal Control field officers do not go out looking for animals. They respond to calls of dogs running loose in the neighborhood or pets being neglected without food or water.
"I've seen staff members here nurse sick puppies and kittens on a 24-hour basis back to health," said Cain. "You can't save them all. Sometimes the neglected animals can't be nursed back to health."
Horton said a dog or cat brought into the shelter is held for five days prior to adopting it out in case the owner claims it. Four staff members work around the clock as needed to care for the animals.
"My mother taught me to do it unto the Lord," said Horton. "Our employees are all Christians. We try to treat people fair and care for animals the best we can within our means."