End of year reports: Doggone good news!

Cullman Tribune, Cullman County Animal Shelter ‘Pet of the Week’ partnership enjoys 98% adoption rate in 2019

Six of 2019’s Pets of the Week- top row, left to right are Auggie, Bilbo and Bobby-Socks; bottom row, left to right are Fonzie, Houla and Pugsley. (Cullman County Animal Shelter)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman Tribune Pet of the Week project, created in partnership with the Cullman County Animal Shelter to highlight available animals (especially those who may have been overlooked) and promote pet adoptions, finished 2019 with wonderful news: 98% of the dogs featured through the year were adopted!

“We are so very grateful for The Cullman Tribune’s willingness to post one of our shelter babies every week to help get them adopted. People who see them in The Tribune and read about their personality fall in love, and the chances of that baby getting adopted increase greatly,” said the shelter’s Andrea Hudson. “Cullman is such a special and caring community. We are so blessed with all the donations we receive for the animals, and we appreciate every like and share these fur babies get by our community on Facebook. A special thank-you goes out to Donna (Ruttkay), one of our volunteers, who unselfishly gives her time to all the animals here, and for her great photos she takes and her on-point bios on the dogs for the Pet of The Week. It is always a good day at the shelter when we are able to place the right dog or cat in the right home with the perfect family.”

Ruttkay added, “Without the passion and dedication from The Cullman Tribune’s staff and their commitment to the Pet of the Week, our dogs’ exposure would be at a minimum.”

Ruttkay went on to share some shelter stories: 

“Families continue to seek the shelter for a companion for their children. Many young adults who struggle with social anxiety, depression, etc. with their doctor’s recommendation stop and typically find the most perfect match for their need.

“A young fellow about 8 years old, along with his older sibling and their mom stopped in. He had just lost his pet cat. Still grieving, he bravely explained, with tears in his eyes, how his special friend died. Mom indicated should he find another companion as he walked around the shelter, he could have one. The young fellow said, ‘I’m not ready yet.’ One caught his eye. She was quite shy and wouldn’t come to the gate. The suggestion was made: ‘A biscuit might bring her closer. Let me know if you are successful.’ A moment later a small boy with an equally small, unassuming voice poked his head around the kennel room door and said, ‘Success.’

“I asked what his cat’s name was. ‘Bennett.’ I was given permission to name a dog in honor of his cat Bennett. So now you see how our sweet Bennett got his name.

“That’s what coming to the shelter means to so many: getting past the grief of a lost pet, aka companion, who are sometimes closer than anyone else! Sharing when their beloved companion dies. ‘I know it’s not much.’ Oh my, yes. it is! You thought of these magnificent shelter dogs/cats.  

“I’m blessed. I see firsthand the emotions and joy when these folks come in.

“Sugar-pie was another shelter dog who had all the characteristics of a therapy dog. She came with me to a meeting. She reduced the stress of all in attendance! When Sugar-pie first entered the shelter, she had a large chain around her neck and crawled in on her stomach, never picking up her head. Her ears were jagged, where someone cut the tips of her ears to make her look fierce. And she was black. Black dogs are typically euthanized because people like flash (never understood that). She was petrified. Eventually she trusted a few, then became the dog I used to socialize other dogs with.

“Anyway, the lady who works where I took her (Sugar-pie) for my meeting: Sugar-pie snuggled up to a lady who worked there-she never did that, ever! The lady fell in love instantly. Yep, she adopted Sugar-pie. And I never tire of hearing about all the sweet escapades Sugar-pie entertains this lady with.”

The numbers

Overall, the shelter saw 530 animal adoptions during 2019, averaging 44 per month. Additionally, 201 stray pets were recovered and returned to their owners.

Numbers were up at the shelter. In December 2019 alone, 60 animals were adopted, versus 34 adoptions in December 2018.

Animal shelter staff and volunteers work with their dogs to make sure they are accustomed to being around people, walking on a leash and practicing good behavior. Several of the shelter’s dogs have even been “hired” to work as therapy and special needs service dogs.  

Please consider adopting to give a rescued pet a chance at a happy and healthy life.

Contact the Cullman County Animal Shelter at 256-734-5448 or cullmancountyanimalshelter@gmail.com. Visit the shelter at 935 Convent Road NE.

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W.C. Mann