Community rallies behind shelter in wake of overcrowding

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 28, 2017

The Andalusia Animal Shelter was facing severe overcrowding issues, but a video made on Monday created a strong outpouring from the community to help relieve the issue.

“We were extremely overcrowded,” Kayla Cleland said. “All of our inside pens had two dogs and we had to build makeshift pens outside to accommodate all of the dogs.”

Coming into Monday, Cleland said the shelter would face a hard decision.

“We knew it was going to be bad when we came in on Monday,” Cleland said. “There was literally no space left to put any animals and that meant we would have to start euthanizing some of the dogs. That is something that we never want to do. So on Monday, we decided to make a video and we just expected it to reach a few people.”

Little did they know how the video would spread and how quickly the community would respond. As of Thursday, the videos had been viewed more than 20,000 times.

“It was absolutely incredible,” Cleland said. “We never expected it to go viral the way it did. Within one hour of putting the video up, we had 40 people in the lobby. One guy showed up with a truck bed full of food and cat litter that he donated. We had people adopting, fostering and donating items and money.”

The community support didn’t stop on Monday, Cleland said.

“When we got here at 8:30 Tuesday morning, there were people waiting at the door,” Cleland said. “There were more than 50 dogs when we started Monday and now we are down to nine.”

Also on Tuesday, local videographer Skip Enzor made a video to help the shelter adopt more pets. That video has been viewed nearly 30,000 times.

“Skip came out and did another video for us on Tuesday and it has also really helped us a lot,” Cleland said. “The support from our community has been amazing. Whenever someone is in need, this community never hesitates to support them. It’s just an amazing feeling when people come out and support us the way they have. It makes all the bad stuff we deal with here worth it when we are able to adopt out these sweet animals.”

Besides adoptions and donations, Cleland said others have shown up to volunteer their time.

“We have had a lot of high school kids come up since seeing the video and filling out applications to volunteer,” Cleland said. “These are high school kids so you know they would rather be at the beach or partying, but these kids want to come up here and help. We had group from Straughn come up and stay all day on Tuesday.”

Even though the shelter is no longer at capacity at this time, Cleland said new dogs come in every day and they still need the support from the community.

“I invite everyone to come out here and see us,” Cleland said. “If you don’t want to adopt, you can just come up and spend some time with a dog. We also have sponsor programs where you pay $100 to have the dog spay or neutered and all of their shots. It’s everything that they need to get out the door and it guarantees that the dog will not leave here until it’s adopted.”