Thirty-two Years of Animal Rescue Yields a Compassionate Community
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.