SPOTLIGHT: Cullman County Animal Shelter

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Anna Mae, a dog adopted shortly after this interview took place, poses in front of a shelf of donations at the Cullman County Animal Shelter. (Cayla Grace Murphy)

‘We are really trying to change how people think of the shelter’

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman County Animal Shelter acts as a bridge between a stray on the street and a pampered pooch in a warm home. By working with dedicated volunteers and a community willing to open their hearts to a dog in need, the shelter throws a lifeline to the stray population of Cullman County, giving them a second chance at life.

“We are really trying to change how people think of the shelter,” said Manager Andrea Hudson, who said that despite a higher-than-average adoption rate and clean and heated kennels, the shelter still sometimes gets a bad reputation, particularly on social media.

“Of the adoptable dogs, about 98% of those dogs do get adopted,” she confirmed. “And we are so thankful for what y’all do for us with Pet of the Week!” Hudson grinned, referring to The Cullman Tribune’s longstanding weekly feature that spotlights adoptable dogs.

“There are times that the right person sees it immediately, and they’re instantly adopted. We even have people that call from out of the county that see it, and it helps us tremendously!” Hudson smiled, saying that for some it may not be so immediate – but there’s no day limit looming over the dogs’ heads.

“We don’t put a number on the days. We’re blessed in that way with the Commission, that we don’t have a limit,” she explained. “Some dogs stay a bit longer, but that’s OK. Atlas (a previous Pet of the Week) stayed a bit longer, but we always just say that the perfect family is out there, they just haven’t come yet.”

Hudson said the shelter has an open-door policy, with no appointment required to visit or see an animal available for adoption. And, by adopting locally, you are helping give a four-legged resident of Cullman a second chance.

“We encourage the community to adopt from their local shelter. It helps the community they’re in, and it really helps the dog. We really want them to come and visit the shelter, and spend some time. We love company!” she laughed, saying that adoption isn’t the only reason to stop by; several community members drop by during their lunch breaks after a stressful morning of meetings.

“We have a lot of people who may have just had a bad day, and they come in and spend their lunch hour petting the dogs. We encourage that!” smiled Hudson, who said that regular interaction with residents is not only beneficial for those getting a healthy dose of puppy love but especially for those dogs who may need an extra bit of support during a stay in the shelter.

Hudson mentioned a few key players who help make the work they do at the shelter possible, giving high praise to many: Beverly Burke, who makes jewelry to be sold for donation with all proceeds benefiting the shelter; Donna Ruttkay, who selects and works with each dog for Pet of the Week; a donor who preferred to stay anonymous who sponsored 12 adoptions in December; and perhaps most notably and most longstanding, East Point Animal Hospital.

“They’re unsung heroes over there, I mean, no matter how busy they are, they fit us in. We couldn’t do what we do without them!” she smiled, referring to the checkup and spay or neuter procedure that is covered by the adoption fee.

Hudson said she often gets questions about what the shelter might find useful as far as donations, and she always suggests plain Milk-Bones and Valu-Pak dog food in the black bag, which can be purchased locally at Chambers Farm & Garden Supply. Kennel blankets and toys are sure to please, too!

To volunteer, drop off donations or view animals available for adoption, visit the Cullman County Animal Shelter Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; the shelter is located at 935 Convent Rd NE. Follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cullmancountyanimalshelter.

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