DOBSON — In an effort to ease tensions and instill a spirit of cooperation between all parties involved, the state director of the North Carolina Humane Society will be in the county to hold a public meeting.
Late last month, Kimberley Alboum, North Carolina state director for the Humane Society of the United States, approached county officials about potentially holding a meeting in the county following media coverage of protests at the local animal shelter.
“She approached us about the possibility of doing some educational programming and helping everyone understand what we can do to make our shelter the best it can be,” said Samantha Ange, director of the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, which oversees shelter operations in the county.
The meeting is set for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 9 in the Board of Commissioners meeting room at the county government center in Dobson.
It comes on the heels of protests at the local animal shelter claiming that the high euthanasia rate, coupled with a county ordinance prohibiting the adoption of chows, Rottweilers and pit bulls, makes the shelter little more than a slaughterhouse.
About 75 concerned animal lovers braved stifling heat to show their support for the animals at the Surry County Animal Shelter on June 21, saying they were on hand to “speak for the animals who have no voice,” noting the 90-percent kill rate at the shelter.
According to numbers from the N.C. Department of Agriculture, Surry County had a 2011 euthanasia rate of 90.69 percent compared to an adoption rate of 4.53 percent.
Ange said the county has worked closely with Alboum in the past, and she hopes animal advocates in the county will attend the meeting.
“Once (the protests) hit the news, (Alboum) contacted us about helping us while at the same time working with the animal lovers in the county,” she said. “I think what she wants to do is put everyone around a table and see what we can work out. She is a friend to animal lovers as well as us.”
Ange said she envisions the meeting as a “grassroots meeting about what has worked in other areas in the past.”
“The meeting will focus on bettering our shelter and bridging the gap to work together and educate the community about what they can do to work with us toward the same goals,” she said.
Alboum said similar meetings have been held around the state.
“It’s a great way for members of the community to get together and talk about animal advocacy,” she said, noting that the meeting also will focus on other issues faced by animals in the state. “Part of the reason we’re doing this now is that we need to get support for the shelter and this kind of community meeting is a great opportunity to figure out how animal lovers can work constructively with the shelter.”
The meeting will be conducted by Alboum, who will offer a presentation, but she said others, including the state director for the Stop Puppy Mills campaign and representatives from North Carolina Voters for Animal Welfare, will be on hand.
Ange said that despite tensions in the past, animal advocates, including those involved in the recent shelter protests, are welcome.
“I’d love to personally invite them to come out,” she said. “A lot of people have really been vocal about making a difference and seeing positive changes to work together.
“This is a way to build a relationship between us so we can put best practices in place.”
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.