Dogs’ Best Friend


Thank You, Patricia!

 It is with both honor and sadness that Mitchell County Animal Rescue announces the retirement of our devoted animal champion and Executive Director, Patricia Beam. The search for a new ED to lead us into an exciting future has now begun. 

Sometime in 1996, Patricia Beam was sought out by Mitchell County Animal Rescue to check on the status of a horse in the Bear Creek Community.  Thus began over two decades of devoted work on behalf of MCAR.  First as a volunteer, then as a board member, and eventually as Executive Director of our organization and shelter. Recently, she announced her retirement from MCAR, and we reflect on her 22 memorable and lifesaving years in animal sheltering and rescuing.

A native of Mitchell County, Patricia possessed intimate knowledge of companion and domestic animals and of people in our community, understanding their customs and traditions. She knew who to trust and who to call in an emergency to help an animal or animals in a crisis situation. She had grown up on a farm and was devoted to animals, Patricia’s work with MCAR was a true calling. 

Patricia had no fear.  She would slog through the mud with a deputy, a camera and catch pole in tow.  She faced danger in so many situations without hesitation that we truly feared for her safety!  Her gift, was to show compassion and strength when confronting animal cruelty in all its manifestations from neglect and abuse, to hoarding and dog fighting.  Patricia cultivated a strong relationship of respect and cooperation with our local law enforcement, our volunteer fire departments and emergency management. She testified in court and advocated for the animals who could not speak for or defend themselves.  She navigated MCAR through Rabies outbreaks, Flood disasters and Fire emergencies, setting standards and procedures for operation that will serve us far into the future.

Her most important gift was using her love of animals to foster an atmosphere of compassion, respect and hope at MCAR’s animal shelter.  Directing the day to day operations, assembling a devoted staff, answering literally thousands of calls for assistance from local citizens were just one part of her efforts.  Patricia worked with staff to pioneer animal transport for adoption before it became commonplace in Animal Sheltering.  She encouraged staff and volunteer education and participation in emergency management preplanning.  She worked with local veterinarians to establish a low cost spay neuter program that ensured that every animal adopted from our shelter was fixed, and that our county residents could access this program for their own pets.

Patricia officially retired from MCAR in December of this year.  Her legacy is the improvement of the lives of thousands of companion and farm animals in Mitchell County.  Her impact on our organization will be felt for generations going forward toward a more compassionate world.  We wish her the best of luck with this next chapter in her life, and thank her from the bottom of our hearts.

—Jan Ritter

Becoming Gabriel

Arriving at Mitchell County Animal Rescue

If you’re like me, you might not choose to read an article that begins with a photo like this. You know it’s a sad story you can do nothing about. That’s not the case here; it’s safe to read. I promise you this one ends well, thanks to Mitchell County Animal Rescue.

Over a year has passed now since MCAR learned through anonymous tips that a large number of animals were being hoarded and held in horrific conditions by an elderly couple in Mitchell County. This led to a large-scale rescue involving multiple organizations across the state. Fifty-nine dogs, puppies, cats, kittens, and chickens were rescued. Every one of those animals has a story to tell.

This is Gabe’s story. August 19, 2015, the day of his rescue, is the day I celebrate his birthday, the day he was truly given his life.

As I write, he’s lying a few feet from me with a jellybean wrapper between his paws and a scrap of leather that’s become his favorite toy.  I can reach out to pet him. If this sounds unremarkable, it is anything but. Only a few months ago, he would not sit this close to me, much less in the same room. He didn’t know about toys, was never relaxed, and wouldn’t let me touch him. 

Fortunately, Gabe does not dwell on the past. If he did, he would remember living alone in an outdoor cage open to the sky, a blue plastic barrel in the dirt for shelter, green stagnant water to drink, a gate that could not be opened due to mud washout over the years, scraps of food thrown over the fence. He would not remember affection or haircuts or companionship or comfort for his fears because those things didn’t happen. He’s come a long way in a year.

Once he arrived at the shelter that August day, he was not docile or feeling grateful. Taking him out of the carrier, staff was met with a misshapen mass of hair, dreadlocks caked with feces, mud, and sticks that dragged the ground. If you counted the appendages, there were far more than a dog should have. His head was nearly indistinguishable from the tail, and it wasn’t clear what was a tail and what was a leg. The staff’s best guess was that he was a female Shih Tzu. He had to be sedated so that Amber and Karen could shave the hair away to see what was left.

They carefully cut off the masses with scissors and clippers, barely able to separate his skin from the hair so tightly knotted that it held his neck down at an odd angle, completely covered one eye, and made it impossible for him to lift his legs. Those mats of hair held his entire history.

Two hours later, he was released three pounds lighter. Left was a very thin, twelve pound, adult, male Mini-Schnauzer, unfixed, splayed toes, swayback, blind in one eye, and the luckiest dog on earth.

As he lay, still sedated, in Amber’s arms, we thought he looked like an angel. Amber named him Gabriel, after the angel.

Over the next month the shelter staff brought him back to health, building strength and confidence, and helping him get used to human touch. He was neutered, was treated repeatedly for worms, and had seven teeth pulled. MCAR was very grateful to receive an emergency relief grant from PetSmart Charities for $14,500 that helped defray the expense of the animals' care. 

Gabe, very skinny, in his first week in the shelter’s care

 Shelter staff Karen, Tamara, Amber putting a collar on Gabe and saying goodbye on his last day with them

He came to live with me in late September. My dogs and I were to be his foster home until he was adoptable. I knew right away he had found his home. The first afternoon with him was rough. It took three hours before I could get close enough to remove his leash. He was panic-stricken and really smart. If cornered, he had the urge to bite. He had never worn a collar or walked on a leash and clearly did not trust me at all. He only began to calm down when I stopped looking at him or paying him any attention.

I learned to move around the house in slow motion. An unexpected move would terrify him and send him panicked, slamming into walls and furniture, a situation made even worse by his blind eye. If he was comfortable in a particular spot when a noise scared him, he would not return to that spot. Ever. He wouldn’t step into smaller rooms and always scoped out his exit routes. He would eat only when his bowl was next to the back door. Any change in a room, such as a book on the floor, made him wary. A knitting needle falling to the floor or a sneeze would send him flying out the door. And he can make himself very small, the way he hangs back, inconspicuous.

That first night he settled easily onto his new dog bed until I came close. Wondering if he could get comfortable with me nearby, I lay on the floor with my head on the dog bed. Lying there completely still, eyes closed, he eventually stopped his low growl and came closer to sniff around, finally climbing onto the bed to lie down. What happened next will sound unreal. I thought he was pushing his towel around to make himself a comfortable nest as he nudged it towards me. When he seemed satisfied, the towel was pushed up against my face. But he wasn’t done. He lifted the towel in his mouth and put it over my head, nosing it into place around my entire head and neck. He deliberately covered me up! Surely this was a message.

I hoped my four dogs would give Gabe tips about being a dog. Of course the lessons they had in mind were not necessarily the things on my list. Lesson #1: Never Step Outside on a Rainy Day. He learned that one surprisingly fast for a dog who had spent his life outdoors. They’ve taught him how to play with toys, lift his leg, and wrestle. And he watches them for cues that I can be trusted. If they play with me, so will he. Gabe watched Ollie chew on a plastic chew bone he dug out of the toy box. From bed that night, I heard noise in the living room about 1:30 AM. Gabe was chewing on that bone.

By the end of the first week, he let me rest my hand on his back. Not long after that he would come almost close enough to pet IF I was sitting, IF I would reach just beyond comfort to touch him, and IF there was nothing in my other hand. I had to learn the rules.

It was another three months before I could touch his head and eleven months before I could pet him with both hands.

Ollie and Gabe playing


Last December, thanks to a grant from Pedigree, Adinna from Blue Ridge Dog Trainers began working with us. Dog training, I learned, is really as much human training. My first lesson was to put a leash on Gabe and keep him at my side as much as possible over the next month. Adinna had me get a padded wire dog crate so Gabe had a place to call his own where he always knew he was safe. We practiced taking the leash on and off. Over the next few months, he learned to sit (more or less), go to his safe place if he was afraid, to relieve himself in one spot in the yard regardless of weather, how to jump into the car. We made trips to the park to walk on the leash and see new sights. He was afraid of everything at first—kids, bright colors, camo jackets, skateboards, grass, ducks. At first, he plodded along with his tail and head down like on a death march, never stopping to sniff or lift a leg. But recently in the park, I heard a young girl comment that Gabe prances. Made me proud.

For our third training session, we met at PetSmart for some socialization. He was clearly in a foreign land, leaping to hide in a bin of toys when the announcements scared him. We saw the sights for 20 minutes, which was the amount of time Adinna thought he could handle before the novelty started stressing him.

Gabe hiding in the bins at PetSmart


From Adinna, I learned to let Gabe adapt at his own pace, not to push him to do things that scare him. If I try to force something on him, even something he enjoys, he’ll avoid me for days. I learned to expose him to new things for only a short time so they aren’t punishing, and how important it is to have a safe place where he knows he will be left alone with no expectations to meet.

In this last year, he’s had a lot of firsts: he’s worn his first collar, had his first haircut and bath, been brushed, walked on a leash, gone for a ride, walked in the park, put his feet in the river, had treats, a ball, stuffed animals, gotten Christmas presents, eaten turkey at Thanksgiving, and been best friend to an orphaned kitten. Has a bed of his own in a warm house. He’s gotten the courage to jump up and sleep on the couch. (That took nine months.) Last week, he started sitting by his food bowl every evening at 5 PM. Still, he doesn’t want to be too close, but also doesn’t want to be too far away. He loves watching other dogs play. He seems torn between acting on experience and his hope for good things. I still look forward to the day he wants to sit in my lap.

I don’t know if Gabe will ever fully recover. I do know no one will ever yell at him or hit him or ignore him. He’ll never live outside or be tied to anything. He’ll never be cold or hungry or be alone in the thunderstorms that scare him. And I know he’s not done healing, but each day that passes takes him farther from his unimaginable past. It takes a really long time to ease the damage done. But he has a place and purpose, a family. He knows he’s loved and needed.

Gabe is my hero.  I’ll never understand what kept him going. He is still suspicious of all the things he should be suspicious of, and I understand and sort of admire that. It’s a skill that has helped him.

I could talk about how lucky he is but that kind of luck only comes after unspeakable bad luck. So instead I’ll tell you how grateful I am to learn from his resilience and benefit from his capacity to love and to trust.  Today, after fourteen months together, I can tell he wants to lick my face. When he wants something, he can make it happen.

Dana Moore

 Gabe in July


Max, Rest in Peace

Some shelter animals and their stories stick with me like gorilla glue. Max is one of them. 

Nine years ago I got a call that the SBI needed me to come get 3 dogs at a murder scene. I could not tell anyone where I was going and why. A man had admitted to murdering his girlfriend in her home. He then bound her body in ropes and tape to stuff her in a garbage bag and hide her under trash on the back porch. It had taken 2 hours for law enforcement to get in the fenced yard and now her three dogs would not let them in the house.

There was a Rottweiler and two Australian Cattle Dogs staring down the officers. It was obvious they were protecting their master to the end. Andie McKinney and I had to sign ourselves in with the SBI. We asked the officers to step out of the fence. We caught two dogs easily but the dog we later learned was Max had to be trapped. All the dogs were exhausted from being on duty for weeks.  

We learned the victim would not remain at SafePlace because she could not bring her dogs. MCAR placed a dog kennel in days at SafePlace and offered our help.

Friends of the murderer checked on the dogs while with us. The Rotty and female Cattle Dog were easily adopted but not Max. Max was grieving and not friendly. He disliked men. He had a stare that would make anyone hesitate. Cattle Dogs are known as a one person dog. Max had lost his one person. 

Donna Collis asked her friend Lloyd Glenn to come see Max. Lloyd was hesitant. What if the killer got out and came after the dog? And him? He didn't think Max liked him. We pleaded for Lloyd to just try him. Max became Lloyd's shadow. Max shopped at Wal-Mart and helped Lloyd maintain summer homes in Little Switzerland. Max attended fire dept meetings every Monday night. Lloyd would not go on vacation for years because Max had to stay home. He finally trusted Donna to feed him for a few days. 

Max was not popular with Lloyd's friends. It was apparent to everyone that Max was not going to lose his person this time and Lloyd was not going to lose his truck. Max did his job very well. 

A new kennel was built at Safeplace. Max and Lloyd attended the dedication. Max's story of devotion was told as we talked how domestic violence hurts everyone. Lloyd was so proud of Max, who was well behaved. 

Donna let me know Max died last night. Unless you have been owned by a Cattle Dog, it would be hard to know just how Lloyd feels. I told Donna to tell him he gave Max nine good years. Lloyd replied Max gave him nine good years and for me to find him another shelter Cattle Dog. And I will. We get lots of Cattle Dogs at MCAR. R.I.P. Max. You are a good dog.

Patricia Beam


On behalf of animals in our county, an enormous THANK YOU to our generous artists, sponsors, donors, hosts, volunteers, and organizers. Working together, you made Wine & Whiskers 2016 our most successful fundraiser ever. The total amount raised—$11,500—will all go to spay/neuter for dogs and cats in the shelter's care and for half price s/n for pets in the county. 

Participants also donated 148 pounds of pet food for our pet food bank. 

Special thanks to Mike Brown Subaru, our Presenting Sponsor; The Pizza Shop for generously hosting the event;  Speckled Dog, Visions in Cake, and Wineberry Farm & Bakery for desserts, Hot Duck Soup for entertainment; and Rob Heffron and Robbie Bell for giving so generously of their time and skills.

Our gratitude to the talented and big-hearted artists of Mitchell County. Thank you all!



Reprinted from Mitchell News Journal 

Wed, 09/07/2016


BAKERSVILLE – Spruce Pine resident Katie Callahan was on an evening run Sunday, Aug. 21, through the English Woods neighborhood when she was viciously attacked by a loose pit bull. She was bitten so severely on her leg and buttocks she was taken by ambulance to Blue Ridge Regional Hospital and treated for her wounds.

Until now, however, there was nothing anyone could do about the attack.

With her left leg turned black and blue and wrapped in a bandage, Callahan stood in front of the Mitchell County Board of Commissioners during its monthly meeting this past Thursday and had a rather simple request.

“I am here to ask the commissioners a committee be formed to address dangerous dogs,” said Callahan, a self-proclaimed animal lover and former member of the Mitchell County Animal Rescue Board. “This dog was not on a leash or behind a fence. If it had been a child or an elderly person who was attacked, they could have died.”

Callahan’s request was granted. A dangerous dog declaration board has been established with Mitchell County Sheriff Donald Street, Spruce Pine Police Chief Billy Summerlin and Mitchell County Animal Rescue Executive Director Patricia Beam comprising its members.

Per the North Carolina General Statute addressing dangerous dogs, an appeals board was also established with Spruce Pine Town Council member James Acuff, Gouge Elementary principal Colby Calhoun and county manager Charles Vines comprising its members.

After the appeals board, the next step is the North Carolina Superior Court.

“North Carolina has a general statute for a vicious and dangerous dog,” Street told the commissioners. “Part of that statute says there has to be a person or board in place to declare that dog vicious and dangerous. What I want to ask from (the commissioners) is to give me approval to establish a board – and I’ve got three members ready to sit on that board right now – to be able to determine if the dog is vicious and dangerous. We want something done. If you’re out here and you own a dog that’s biting people when they are walking down the road and minding their own business, the dog needs to be put up and something needs to be done.”

The statute does not deal with the dog; it instead deals with the dog owner.

“We’re more than willing to charge that person with anything we can, but I what I want to do first is, if it’s a bite, the dog is going to have to be quarantined for 10 days,” Street said. “After that, I’d like to work out something that before they can get that dog and take it home that they’re going to have to sign some sort of paperwork with us showing how they’re going to house that dog. If that dog is out, we’re charging them.”

Having a dog deemed dangerous microchipped is also part of the plan, Street said, which allows the board to determine a dog belongs to a specific owner.

“At this point,” Street said, “I can’t make an owner do anything.”

Street mentioned a deputy, Ashley Beam, who was bitten in the face by a dog that was running loose after it was returned to its owner.

“I’m afraid if we don’t do something someone is going to get killed before this is over,” Street said. “And just thank God Katie was not killed. How that dog, once she fell, decided to run off I have no clue.”

Mitchell County Animal Rescue Board Member Gloria Schulman told the board there have been several vicious dog attacks in the past month and the board feels “very strongly” there needs to be something done to stop it.

Beam said the past two bite dogs quarantined are “very dangerous.” 

“I released one out of quarantine and the owner was there,” she said. “Someone came in with a stray dog and he said he heard the commissioners were going to talk about the dangerous dogs and the owner of the dog that was being released out of quarantine said, ‘Yeah, I think they should do something.’ He was oblivious to the fact his dog was dangerous. Someone is going to get seriously injured or killed if we don’t do something.”

Summerlin agreed something needs to be done to address dangerous dogs.

“(The Spruce Pine police) are in favor of something,” he said. “The owner of the dog (that attacked Callahan) was cited and that’s about all we can do on our end of it because he was in violation of our leash law. That’s a small amount compared to what she is going to have to pay for her doctor bills.”

County attorney Lloyd Hise said the first step is the county adopting an ordinance that clearly defines how a dangerous dog should be housed and making the first offense a Class III misdemeanor.

“(We need) to give everybody one chance, because this could happen by accident,” Hise said. “But after that dog is loose a second time after being declared dangerous, it should be a more serious offense.”

Beam said the two dogs recently quarantined could’ve easily gotten out of where they were being housed.

The dangerous dog board and board of appeals were approved. Ordinances pertaining to dangerous and vicious dogs will be presented in October at the board of commissioners’ regular meeting. 

When a Love of Animals Turns into a Psychiatric Disorder

This article is reprinted from

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By Dr. Becker

Hoarding was included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 2013, which means that all forms of the condition, including animal hoarding, are officially considered a psychiatric disorder.

However, animal hoarding in the U.S. is probably much more common than the estimated 2,000 cases per year. There is a general lack of awareness that the behavior is an identified psychological condition, so only the most shocking cases get publicized. Very little research has been done on animal hoarding, but fortunately, interest in the subject is increasing in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia. 

Profile of an Animal Hoarder

In order to be considered an animal hoarder, a person must have a large number of animals at home that are not receiving the minimum standard of care. Another prerequisite is that the hoarder denies or tries to minimize the appalling conditions the animals are living in.

Most animals kept by hoarders are sick, dirty, and infested with parasites. Often there are also several dead animals found around the hoarder’s home or yard. Another problem is the effect on the local environment, which can include flea and tick infestations, and dangerous levels of ammonia from animal urine in the air.

Sadly, the hoarders themselves typically live in the same unsanitary environment as their animals, sometimes without a functioning kitchen or bathroom.

Most animal hoarders are socially isolated, middle-aged or older women who take in cats, dogs, or both. However, it’s not unheard of for a man or even an entire family to hoard or live in a hoarding situation. 

Animal Hoarders Lack Insight and Empathy

Animal hoarding is believed to be associated with attachment problems to other people. Instead, hoarders develop an excessive attachment to animals, commonly in response to childhood neglect or abuse.

They lack the emotional knowledge to appreciate the reality of others, with the result that they fail to understand how others think and feel. They tend to decide FOR their animals how they feel, for example, “My animals love me”… even though they are clearly suffering from lack of care. Hoarders also lack awareness of their animals’ distress, or make up their own rules for what constitutes distress. 

Animal hoarders often have other mental disorders, such as object hoarding or dementia. They also typically lack insight or awareness of their situation, and many demonstrate a lack of empathy for other creatures, including the animals in their hoard.

Helping Hoarders and Their Animals

Experts agree that increasing public awareness of animal hoarding as a psychiatric condition will result in earlier detection of hoarding cases.

Also, standard policies for effective interventions must be implemented, and should provide assistance for both the animals and the hoarder. In most animal hoarding interventions, the animals are removed, but the person receives no further attention. Since hoarders don’t comprehend that the animals removed from their care were severely neglected, they typically turn right around and start a new hoard. They need mental health treatment immediately to prevent a recurrence.

If you’re concerned that a neighbor, family member or friend may be an animal hoarder (or an object hoarder), you can make your own risk assessment using the HOMES Scale. If you feel your suspicions are warranted, contact your local humane society, police department, or animal control department. I realize this will probably be a difficult call to make, but consider the following, from The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium

Failure to provide proper care for animals is a crime in every state. 

Although animal hoarders may suffer from a variety of mental health problems and behavioral predispositions, including how they respond to stress, that preclude them from providing proper care for companion animals, it is rare that they are found incompetent to stand trial.

Furthermore, even though "intent" to harm may be lacking, most hoarding cases are characterized by a series of very deliberate acts and choices made by the hoarder, which placed their interest above the interests of animals (e.g., continuing to acquire, refusal of help, unwillingness to adopt, failure to seek medical care, failure to spay-neuter, etc.) that could all foreseeably lead to animal suffering and neglect.

Nine Lives, Well Lived

Our Gunther

Our Gunther

By Kim Mayhew


He arrived at the shelter like so many others, surrendered by his owner.  The reason he was no longer wanted was because of “litterbox issues.”  He saw the world as his litterbox.  But he was a beauty.  A flame point, ragdoll kind of cat.  Blue eyes, never mind that they were crossed.  Named Gunther, he was soon sent to be neutered so that a new home could be found for him. 

That was when it started.  Humane Alliance called and reported that Gunther had a serious heart murmur, so bad that he might not make it through surgery.  It was decided to try.  He made it through just fine.  Perhaps using up one of his allotted nine lives.  Back at the shelter, they decided to keep him and let him be the official shelter cat, since his health was questionable at best due to the heart condition.  Dr. Stewart advised that he not be put on heart medication and just keep a check with regular bloodwork.  Gunther agreed, ready to get on with his life.

Gunther took to his new position with gusto, at least when he wasn’t napping.  He showed how creative he could be with finding new places to “go,” such as the desk calendar or bathroom sink.  But his charm got him out of trouble every time.  He made sure that no pens or other materials would clutter the desktops, preferring that they went to the floor instead.  He feared no dogs and initiated all the cats who were guests at the shelter.  He worked tirelessly at his job, right down to the detail of testing out every empty box for appropriateness as a napping spot.

Not content to admire the great outdoors through the window, he would make escapes on occasion.  During one such visit outside, he managed to get all the way to the highway and was hit by a car.  A board member happened to pass by and recognized him.  She took him to REACH for emergency care.  They called and said they didn’t think he would survive his injuries due to his serious heart condition.  Awake but unresponsive, a full body x-ray was done and they found that his only injury was a broken tooth.  Another of those nine lives gone.  But he soon was back to his own unique self and back to work.

After a few years at the shelter, it was decided that Gunther should retire to a regular home.  He came to live with me and my pack and pride in Green Mountain.  Patricia said they sent him off to a home full of German Shepherds and never worried for a minute, at least not for Gunther.  Gunther went right into retirement like a pro.  He established his place in the household and the others knew to respect his space.  Even Thor, an unruly rescued German Shepherd, would just run circles around him when they played but that was close enough.

A few weeks into his retirement, Gunther decided to check-off an item on his bucket list, wilderness camping.  He took off into the woods and didn’t tell anyone where he was going or when he would return.  We searched for him for days.  The land here is rather rugged and steep with so many great kitty hiding places, it was worse than looking for a needle in a haystack.  We found nothing.  No Gunther, no fur tufts from a fight, nothing.

A couple of weeks after he left, he reappeared back at home.  A bit thinner due to his lack of experience hunting in the wilderness, he was otherwise no worse for the trip.  There are coyotes and large wildcats in our area that aren’t typically very nice to domestic cats.  Not to mention the stress of living in the wild with a serious heart condition.  We have no idea how many of his nine lives were used up during his walkabout.  But after that, he never ventured out of the sight of the house!

Gunther continued his retirement for almost four years, napping in the sun beside the creek, occasionally having conversations with the other cat family members, and writing a column for the MCAR newsletter.  His MCAR friends would send gifts of yummy canned food and kitty treats, which he enthusiastically devoured.  He would always escort me up the driveway when I arrived home, forcing me to drive at cat-with-a-heart-condition speed. Sometimes he even chatted with friends on his Facebook page. 

He had gotten into the habit of hanging out on the back porch in the evening so that he could smack the faces of the dogs as we brought them in after their last walk of the day.  One evening, Phoenix, a German Shepherd who is a MCAR graduate, was the last face he smacked goodnight, and as usual she just looked at him with that, "What's your problem?" look.  Gunther had three favorite boxes, one on the back porch, one on the front porch, and another under the dining room table, where he would sleep and take naps.  That Saturday night, after he smacked all the dogs goodnight, he made way to his front porch box, which is where he had been sleeping most nights since the weather got warmer.  That's where we found him Sunday morning, just looking like he was asleep in his box, but apparently out of lives.

What a special kitty, who went from being unwanted one day to being known and loved by many in the years to come.  Even the crematory that provided his final care recognized how special he was and donated their services because “he was such a celebrity.” Animals offer us so many life lessons, if we just pay attention.  Gunther taught us to live life to our fullest, whatever that is.  Don’t let a limitation hold you back, do what you can with what still works.  Whenever the going gets tough, take a nap.  If that doesn’t fix it, take a longer nap.  And perhaps the best part of his legacy is the demonstration that even imperfect animals can be perfectly wonderful companions.

Nine lives, well lived.

Saving our Shelter

Our mission seems simple enough: to save the unwanted animals of Mitchell County and find loving homes where they can thrive. Our community demonstrates its humane values through the kindness and respect we show them, and the affection they return enriches our lives. But this is an expensive proposition.

In order to do our work we need money to buy food and medicine for the animals, to fund the spay/neuter program, provide for animals with special needs, investigate cruelty and neglect, to heat the shelter, pay our staff, to maintain the building and its systems, and to pay for transporting our shelter pets to other specialty adoptive organizations. We spend about $350,000 each year, which does not include special needs, vehicle needs or emergency animal seizures, or emergency facility repairs.

The Mitchell County commissioners understand the value of our services, and we are grateful for their substantial support; but their annual contract with us meets less than half of our expenses. MCAR's budget has benefited in past years from generous bequests that have covered our shortfalls month after month. But even this money will run out soon.

We continually trim our budget everywhere we can and seek outside help to cut further, but our work is costly and our income insufficient to cover these costs. Our spay/neuter activism is beginning to help reduce the number of unwanted litters, which should ultimately reduce our expenses; but this outcome is long-term and our daily costs are immediate.

Your donation is an investment in our effort to provide food, shelter, and loving care to our shelter pets every day of the year. In 2015 you helped us save the lives of pets and transform families. Your gifts helped over 500 shelter animals find permanent homes, and 67 lost pets become reunited with their families. Your donations helped us provide food, vaccinations, and medical care for each cat, dog, rabbit, ferret, bird, goat, pig, duck and horse in our care. In addition, your donations helped us provide cruelty investigations for our community and animal-care education for your children.

People like you who love animals come from all walks of life. We depend on you to support our efforts to save animals in our community, and we need your help!

1. Speak up for the animals in Mitchell County.                                                  Work with your neighbors and friends to promote the humane treatment of animal and report animal abuse.

2. Think about a generous gift.                                                                           These are tough economic times. In our 33-year history, the demands for our services have never been greater. Our number one priority—to find permanent loving homes for our shelter animals—is in jeopardy.

As you plan your own budget for 2016 and beyond, think of Mitchell County's homeless animals.


Our work saves lives. Please help.

Thirty-two Years of Animal Rescue Yields a Compassionate Community

First MCAR board members included Nyla Greene, Barbara Hendrix, Kate Vogel

First MCAR board members included Nyla Greene, Barbara Hendrix, Kate Vogel

Prior to 1984, unwanted animals were the source of many problems in Mitchell County. Dogs roamed in threatening packs, carcasses of dead dogs and cats littered the roads, litters of unwanted puppies and kittens were routinely found abandoned at dumpster sites around the county, many animals that seemed to have homes were abused and starved for lack of resources, and rabies was a looming threat in western North Carolina. Mitchell County’s citizens needed a plan to improve this situation.

1984 Bernie & Beverly Adams call a public meeting to discuss the problems associated with living in a county with no animal shelter. The standing-room-only crowd decides to create the non-profit Mitchell County Animal Rescue. The first board members include Nyla Greene, Kate Vogel, Nona Greene, and Barbara Hendrix, among others. A hotline is set up and monitored regularly in a small office donated by the school board. More than 700 calls are logged in the first year from citizens with concerns about animals and problems associated with them. These calls yield statistics that demonstrate the need for an animal shelter. Without a shelter, MCAR members foster animals at their homes. Some members foster as many as 30 or 45 animals while waiting years for a shelter. They also hold monthly “adoption days” in locations around Mitchell County to find forever homes for their fosters.

Beginning in 1985 In order to pay for vet care for the foster animals, fund-raising activities become continuous. Dog banks are set out on sales counters in businesses throughout the county. Frequent bake sales are held. Artists donate their work to Art for Animals Sake annual sales. Kate Vogel, Liz Sutcliffe, and Sally Guerard write applications for grants from various organizations. Janirve Foundation, Blumenthal Foundation, and many others donate in these early years.

Sarah Bailey, Kate Vogel, Jan Ritter and Susan Ross form an education committee. They visit every county classroom of kindergarten, first, third, and fifth graders to discuss rabies vaccinations and spay/neuter solutions as well as other humane topics.

1988 County commissioners agree to hold a referendum to ask the citizens of Mitchell County what they want to do. Volunteers gather at every polling place to remind voters about the importance of the referendum. By a margin of 3 to 1, voters are in favor of providing public funds for an animal shelter. Feldspar Corportation donates the land to MCAR and the county provides some of the funds for its construction. Grants and donations provide the balance.

1994 January 22, MCAR Shelter is dedicated and opened for the business of caring for Mitchell County’s homeless animals. Shelter staff gradually assume much of the burden of fostering animals, getting them healthy, and finding new homes for them.