Union and Towns HSMS holds special meeting

March 23, 2009 - Humane Society Mountain Shelter holds special meeting in Blairsville, Georgia

The Humane Society Mountain Shelter recently held a special gathering at the Union County Civic Center. Tension was high with over 175 people participating in the proceedings. Members were looking for answers, the new (and old) Board of Directors was looking uncomfortable, and many people were wondering, "How is this mess going to affect the animals?"

During a pause between the booing, whistling, and clapping, one HSMS member asked, "What is this meeting about? Why exactly are we here?" According to handouts, The HSMS Membership Committee recommends removing seven board members, retaining four board members, and electing five new board members.

HSMS members and volunteers are furious over the recent firing (by the board) of a HSMS Thrift Store employee. They are also upset over recent requests for volunteer workers to sign an agreement. Exact wording of the agreement is unclear, but supposedly it includes a requirement that all volunteers agree to never discuss HSMS business and to always have their pets spayed or neutered.

During the meeting, one board member actually told the audience to keep their mouths shut. When tempers were about to ignite, HSMS member Andrew Domino took the stage and calmly addressed the audience. He said, "I think we should call another meeting in four weeks. That will give plenty of time to do things legally." Though many members wanted a chance to cast a vote, no vote was taken.

Board members never called the meeting to order. It was not officially a "meeting" as Diana Reif pointed out. HSMS by-laws require 14 days notice be given in both Union and Towns counties' legal organs (the North Georgia News and The Towns County Herald). Notices were placed in the North Georgia News (but not the Towns County Herald). Another "official meeting" is being tentatively planned for April 20 th - plenty of time for required notices to appear in both newspapers.

The Union and Towns Humane Society Mountain Shelter is a great organization. Shelter manager Helen Abercrombie and the staff do a great job every day, every week, every month. The daily shelter operations and practices are not in question and continued support from the community is greatly appreciated.

Humane Society's Mountain Shelter recently hosted a family picnic

August 8, 2007 - Picnic at Meeks Park Dog Trail in Blairsville, Georgia

The Humane Society's Mountain Shelter recently hosted a family picnic for staff members, board members, volunteers, families, and their pets. Guests socialized with old friends and made new ones. The event was fun and the food was delicious.

Everyone brought a covered dish for the picnic to go with the grilled hamburgers and hotdogs. Salads, fresh fruit, casseroles, baked beans, coleslaw, and homemade desserts were the highlight of the event.

While guests enjoyed the good food, Mountain Shelter President Donna Williams welcomed everyone to the picnic and made a couple of announcements. Lynn Varian reminded everyone about upcoming events. (The much anticipated Putting on the Dog is coming up September 22 at Crane Creek Vineyards and the Kennel Kruise Motorcycle Pledge ride is scheduled for October 20.)

Many guests brought their pets to the event. The animals enjoyed lots of attention and the wonderful atmosphere of Meeks Park Dog Trail and nearby pavilion.


Pup Strut at Bark in the Park

June 27, 2007 - Pups do more than strut at Mountain Shelter's Bark in the Park in Blairsville, Georgia

Dogs of all sizes and shapes strutted their stuff in the recent Bark in the Park fundraising event at Meeks Park in Union County. Cadence Bank sponsored the Pup Strut, Kids for Canines, and Run for Rover in support of the Humane Society's Mountain Shelter. Festivities began at 8:00 a.m. with people races then moved to the Union County Dog Park where teams of dogs and their owners participated in a 2k Pledge Walk-a-Thon.

The Top Dog Trophy for collecting the most pledge money (over $600) went to Jamie Seabolt, Blairsville's Chief of Police Johnny Carroll, and Alf. Shelter Manager Helen Abercrombie presented Alf with two different trophies - Top Dog and again for Best in Show.

Abercrombie says, "A hundred percent of the money raised at Bark in the Park goes to the local Mountain Shelter which serves both Union and Towns Counties . We will use the funds for spaying and neutering, for maintaining the 120 dogs and cats at the shelter, for veterinary care, for building maintenance and for salaries."

The Pup Strut was a fun day for dogs and humans. Prizes were given to raffle winners, Father Wise was ready and willing to bless the dogs, crowds gathered to watch agility demonstrations, shelter animals were available for adoption, Sheriff Deputy Chad Deyton and Brodie were available for photos, and talented pets got in some friendly competition as they participated in various contests.

Best costume went to Karen Schaumburg's Chipper for his sporty sunglasses and patriotic bandana. Alex Bruce claimed Best Trick Award due to Cheeba's willingness and quick response time. Steve Sloan's dog Spirit won big-dog trophy although it was almost a tie with Dr. Barnes' dogs coming in a close second. Smallest Dog Trophy went to Dave McGregor's Mo. Every contestant won a prize for participating and no one went home empty handed.

Volunteers, including Cadence Bank President Darrin Sparks, did a great job organizing and hosting the 2007 Bark in the Park. Thanks to all that gave time and money to help make the event a success. Thanks also to the people that shop at the Humane Society's thrift stores, adopt shelter animals, spay and neuter their pets, and lend support in various ways throughout the year.


Humane Society Mountain Shelter

Humane Society's Mountain Shelter says "It's all about the animals"

The Humane Society's Mountain Shelter recently held its annual meeting at the Union County Civic Center . More than 40 people gathered to hear about the many changes that have been implemented during the past months. Humane Society members, shelter employees, guests, and board members listened intently to one good report after another.

President Donna Williams welcomed everyone to the meeting and made introductions. Plaques were presented to several people in appreciation for their support and contributions to the Mountain Shelter. Towns County Commissioner Bill Kendall, Union County Commissioner Lamar Paris, Union County Recreation Director Larry Garrett, and Mountain Audio and Video owners Carole Konkel and Michael Hinman graciously accepted the honors.

The 2006 -2007 Board has greatly reduced existing debt and is now paying all bills on time every month. Williams also told about the new surgery facility that has been added to the shelter. (Local vets are volunteering their services to come in and do spaying and neutering onsite. All animals that leave the shelter are spayed or neutered before leaving the shelter - no exceptions.)

Williams ended her report with a plea for anyone with ideas for getting a new van for the shelter to come forward. A good van is desperately needed since the old one is way past its prime.

A highlight of the meeting was a report by Shelter Manager Helen Abercrombie. She said, "It has been an absolutely phenomenal year at the shelter. We have been able to take in 814 animals since June 2006. We have also had 591 adopted out. Since we have started working closely with other agencies, we have the ability to help more animals than ever before. Many animals have lived at the shelter long enough to become staff favorites and some of these shelter residents have recently found homes." As Abercrombie gave their names - Ridge, Little Bear, Susie. people had to wipe tears from their eyes. It was an emotional moment as the audience felt the love that Helen has for the animals in her care.

Abercrombie also thanked her staff and the volunteers. "I want to thank them for doing everything from grant writing to walking the dogs. Because of the caring people that put time in at the shelter, our animals get to socialize. They are receiving good care."

Next on the agenda was an explanation of new by-laws. Board member and Treasurer Diana Reif stated that the old by-laws had to be cleaned-up. Most were not clear in meaning and didn't take into account newer methods of communication like email and telephone. Another example is that the old by-laws scheduled payment of dues on anniversaries. This method wrecked havoc on data-based computer programs. The new by-laws call for everyone's dues to be paid on January 1. Many parts of the old by-laws were vague and have now been replaced by clear and precise wording. Reif also added that the new by-laws make provisions for employment screening. Applicants must now pass a drug test and background check. Reif also announced that the Board is looking into a possible employee benefit package (which is long overdue). Diana also gave a 2007-2008 budget projection as part of the financial report. Everything is looking good although funds are always needed for special projects, shelter improvements, and employee salary increases.

Lynn Varian was next with the fundraising committee report. She announced various events such as the upcoming volunteer picnic and the much anticipated, annual "Putting on the Dog" fundraiser wine-tasting event. Plans are underway to have four major events every year and other smaller events on a monthly basis. Varian extended thanks to United Community Bank and Cadence Bank for their support. She also thanked North Georgia News and Wolf Broadcasting for their continued coverage of Mountain Shelter news and events.

Tricia Spear gave a report on the progress at the three thrift stores. The stores are bringing in more funding than ever and are expected to meet all expectations in the upcoming year. She added that shelving and lumber donations would be greatly appreciated. (There is a new Mountain Shelter Thrift Store in Union County that sells furniture and home accessories. It is located one door down from the existing store.)

Appreciation and thanks were also extended to Norman Bennett for his time and efforts on the web site, the newsletter, and other projects.

Near the end of the meeting, board members were elected and officers were appointed for the 2007-2008 year. Donna Williams will serve another term as President. Diana Reif is new Vice President. Deb Jones is secretary and Dottie Carter is Treasurer.

Many people have worked extremely hard to improve the Humane Society's Mountain Shelter. Board members, staff, and volunteers have succeeded in getting the place up to code and close to being out of the red. The Humane Society's Mountain Shelter is a place that Union and Towns County citizens can be proud to support.

The Humane Society's Mountain Shelter is a private, non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to preventing the cruelty, suffering and inhumane treatment of animals; to providing custodial care to animals within the facility; and to promoting animal placement. The Mountain Shelter practices a "No Kill" policy. This means that no animal will be put down unless deemed violent and a threat to humans or has extensive health problems that can't be treated.