DOBSON — The North Carolina director of the Humane Society of the United States had one message for both animal shelter officials and animal advocates: Quit bickering and work together and great things can happen. Continue fighting each other and nothing will change.
“You and the shelter need to meet each other in the middle,” Kimberley Alboum said to the standing-room-only crowd. “It’s really okay to not completely agree, but if we can be kind and respectful and just try, I really think we’re going to be able to move mountains.”
Many in the crowd, comprised of animal advocates, county officials and animal shelter employees, seemed to be on the same page, offering after the meeting to sign up and begin organizing a group to work with the shelter to reduce the number of animals killed in the county.
But in order to make that happen animal advocates are going to have to begin working with, not against, the shelter, Alboum said, noting that shelter employees have an unenviable job.
“Focus on the fundamentals,” she said. “You’re trying everything you can to get these animals to safety and there’s huge emotion involved.”
Alboum pointed to Shelter Director Gary Brown.
“They’re dealing with having to euthanize animals, with a society where people are walking into the shelter with boxes of puppies saying ‘take them,’ and a community who are only hearing negative things about the shelter,” she said. “It’s draining on us all, but we all want the same thing. We want to decrease the number of animals being euthanized in this community, make spaying and neutering services available for everyone in the community. No one disagrees on that.
“We’re all on the same page, and if we work together, we can achieve it.”
Much of Alboum’s time was spent with a presentation outlining state-wide efforts in animal advocacy, an effort she said local animal advocates could help.
She said repeatedly that local animal advocates should contact their legislators to lobby for legislation designed to stop puppy mills in the state.
“Animal advocates have laid the foundation for change in North Carolina, but there’s more to do,” she said after telling the story of a pit bull that was saved because animal advocates, private organizations, animal shelter employees and veterinarians were all working together.
“I think that… is a story of what a community can do together,” she said. “Animal advocates helped transport her to the vet. Shelter people wanted to save her. A vet treated her and a private shelter ended up rehabilitating her.”
Following the presentation, Alboum took questions from the advocates gathered in the room, a move that demonstrated that many in the crowd were willing to quit fighting the shelter and begin working together.
By the end of the meeting, she had collected signatures for the formation of a credentialed organization to begin working with the shelter, and Commissioner Paul Johnson, who attended the meeting, said they would be willing to work with the group.
“There has been a history of ‘he said, she said’ in the past,” he said. “We all should want to put that behind us to better the situation for animals here in Surry County.”
It was a move that many animal advocates in the room seemed to embrace.
Many, but not all.
“She’s so positive,” one lady was heard to say as she left the meeting. “She seems to think we have people listening to us with open ears.
“She’s living in a dream world.”
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.