5.24.2011

An Inspiring Shelter


I’ve been so inspired by an incredible shelter in Andalusia, Alabama: the Andalusia Animal Shelter. This shelter has one very special mission: to make the facility—and the world—a better place for pets... and they work toward that goal every day.
I recently had the privilege of talking with the amazing Shelter Manager, Christin Ball, about the changes she’s made to their program, including her decision to end the use of gas chambers in their facility. In the state of Alabama, death by gassing is still a legal and highly-used method of euthanasia. But Christin made the noble decision to put an end to the gassing in her shelter, opting for the more humane Euthanasia-by-Injection (EBI) method. In addition, she’s improved shelter life as a whole for the pets, as she tirelessly works to give all pets in her care a chance at life and love. Please read Christin's story. I hope it will inspire you... and renew your faith in shelters...
Christin Ball, Shelter Manager for Andalusia Animal Shelter, describes her shelter experience:
I have been employed with the City of Andalusia/Police Dept. for 7 years now. When I first started, I couldn’t believe the challenge I was taking-on. The shelter was dark, cold, and everybody (including myself) hated coming here. So of course, because I love bright and cheery colors, I first made the decision to liven it up—not just for the people, but it’s really helped the pets as well.
In the beginning, the animals were not given a chance AT ALL. If they were still in the shelter after 7 days, they were automatically gassed. I could NOT believe that this was happening. So I started trying to make small changes that I knew would pay-off one day. I prayed often to God, to give me the strength to come back each day, because I knew He had to put me here for a reason. And soon, I found out what that reason was: to save these poor animals’ lives, promote adoptions, and create a more pleasant environment to encourage more people to come here. I fought long and hard to change the public's perception of the shelter, due to the fact it was given such a bad name over the years. I was able to accomplish that goal, and I was elated to find more support in the form of volunteers and help etc.
So all in all, I have taken on the job of mentor, manager, friend to the animals, EBI tech, and on and on. I have many hats, and love every single one of them. You see, I have to make judgment calls that most would run from, but I make every decision out of my desire to be the best I can be in my field—and most importantly, to be able to look at myself in the mirror every day. While I feel I have accomplished these things, I still have a long way to go!
Why I made the decision to end the gassing in my shelter: When I started here, euthanasia was performed strictly by gas chamber, and I hated it. I had nightmares about it, and literally cried every single time we had to do it. But at the time, that’s all we had.
Then, I was offered a class to become a Euthanasia-by-Injection (EBI) tech, and I couldn't wait to end the gassing. I was sent off to the class, passed with a 98, and was thrilled to come back home to Andalusia from Huntsville with loads of information to share with my employees. I wanted to get us going in that direction right away. But it was no easy task. I had to endure a lot of scrutiny and negative comments, like, "Why waste all that money when what we’ve got is soooo much cheaper and it gets the job done?" That was unacceptable to me. EBI is far more humane for the animals than the gassing method, and as far as the cost aspect, isn't that much more expensive. It was a struggle, but we managed to make the transition with relative ease. I have to say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made!!!
Getting critical vet care for our animals: We were once again blessed when Dr.Bush (Veterinarian) moved back from North Carolina to practice here in Andalusia, AL. He has become our knight in shining armor. Dr. Bush has helped the shelter offer new services to our adopters, such as significantly reduced rates for spay/neuter and mobile vet services. His office is a RV, so he can come to us at the shelter anytime and conduct rabies clinics. He's also able to do all of our spays and neuters right from his RV-turned-surgical-suite, along with a host of other things. Dr. Bush is so great! He does all of these things for the "greater good" of the animals… and that’s the only way we do business here!
What drives me to make a difference for the animals each day: For me and the Andalusia Animal Shelter, it’s always about doing better… not merely striving… but grasping, climbing, and reaching to be the absolute best. I refuse to euthanize ANY PET that is adoptable or that can be placed with a rescue for more training or help! I hope to one day be able to offer more services to our community, like puppy training classes and adult dog obedience training… but I’ve not yet been able to find anyone to volunteer that is qualified.
Trust me, I have grand plans for our shelter… it just takes working toward those goals one day at a time, with a solid vision of what you want to become. I am a firm believer that I was put here at Andalusia Animal Shelter because of my great love for all animals and willingness to make the shelter-world a better place for them. That passion is what drives me every day.
*The Andalusia Animal Shelter needs volunteers! They could especially use a qualified volunteer to help with Christin’s dream of providing training classes for the community! If you can help this incredible shelter, here is the contact info:

101 Coliseum Ave, Andalusia, AL 36420
(334) 222-8705
Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00am-4:30pm


9 comments:

  1. Christin you are awesome! You are a shining example to Shelter managers everywhere and you are a hero for the Pets. Thank you so much for what you have done and are doing to make their lives better!

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  2. AMAZING! Wish more shelter managers would take their jobs to heart & help make it better for the animals & educate the community on responsible pet ownership. God love ya! You're an angel Christin. Thank you!

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  3. Thanks to Pet Pardon we are being aware that the Shelter Dog has a chance because of people like you!! God Bless you and your staff!!
    nathalie Allgeier

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  4. Laura Lee WrightMay 24, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    It is so awesome to hear that a Shelter Manager actually cares about the animals and IS doing whatever they can to make things better for the animals!

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  5. What a wonderful blog post, Ashley. I think we forget that there really are many, many, wonderful and dedicated people out there willing to give not only their money but of themselves.
    And I think maybe you needed this inspiration too. Just a little.

    Tracy

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  6. Thank you soooo much for what you're doing!! If we could ALL strive, as you do, to change our little pocket of the world for the better, then the world would be so much better for all living things!!

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  7. God bless Christin and Dr. Bush. You are wonderful!

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  8. Wonderful post! Great work.
    Love the oggie in the pool. I have one of him at home. He's a shelter baby too.
    Thank you for all that you do!
    Thank you too Ashley!!!

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  9. I applaud you for your bravery and leadership as manager. Your story gives other shelter managers the courage to follow your lead and make positive changes even in the face of adversity. Changing the method of killing innocent animals is sadly a hollow victory. Will you go a step further and become a no kill shelter. I believe no kill is the future for our beloved companions. Nathan Winograd's no kill shelter movement is inspiring have you met with him for insight on becoming no kill? I hope you lead all the shelters in the neighboring communities to end archaic means of euthanizing animals and ultimate reach No Kill.
    Thank you
    Ruff House Rescue NY



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