State of the Shelter: Shelter cares for animals, struggling for funding

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(This story by Zack Steen originally appeared in the Daily Corinthian and is appearing here with permission.)

(This story is the first in a series on the “State of the Shelter” – a look at the current issues and goals of the nonprofit, no kill Corinth-Alcorn Animal Shelter.)

The numbers paint a clear picture of Corinth-Alcorn Animal Shelter’s impact on the community.

In the past six years, the shelter has rescued more than 9,600 animals and of those more than 8,000 were adopted.

Although sometimes animals are turned away by shelter staff due to space limitations, the local nonprofit has continuously worked to save the abused, neglected, abandoned and injured animals in Corinth and Alcorn County.

But it hasn’t been easy.

Funding has always been an issue for the shelter.

“In 2011, we opened the shelter as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and we did this so that we could be independent from the city and the county, but they have also been our customers since day one and that we are so very thankful for,” said Volunteer Director Charlotte Doehner.

Annually, the City of Corinth budgets the shelter $75,000, Alcorn County provides $25,000 and the City of Farmington gives $3,000.

According to Doehner, these contractual agreements with local governments make up $103,000 in the shelter’s annual budget of $194,000.

“Funds we get from the local governments pay for utilities, some maintenance and wages,” she said. “Wages have increased quite a bit in recent years, though.”

Prior to this year, the shelter received up to seven trustees a day from the Alcorn County Regional Correctional Facility. Due to cuts, the shelter now only receives one or maybe two each day.

“Due to the inmate shortage, we had to hire people to help run the shelter,” she said.

Six part-time animal handlers now work at the shelter an average of 35 hours per week. Doehner’s husband, Luke, is operation manager and the shelter’s only full-time employee.

The remaining amount of the shelter’s budget is fulfilled through donations and fundraisers. Those funds raised and personal donations go directly to care for the animals, vet costs, supplies and food.

After a two-month run, the shelter’s biggest fundraiser of the year is set to end on Monday night at 10 p.m.

Doehner hopes to raise $6,500 with the 2018 Pet Calendar Photo Contest Fundraiser, an online-based photo contest that seeks donations from pet lovers.

A photo can be entered for $15 and votes can be casted for $1 each with a $5 minimum. People can donate to the shelter via the contest at calendar.alcornpets.com.

“When you enter your pet or vote in the calendar contest, you are directly supporting the thousands the animals we shelter,” said Doehner. “Last year, we raised $6,492 and, with the help of our wonderful community supporters, we know we can beat that figure this year.”

The grand prize pet winner not only appears on the cover of the calendar, but also receives a professional pet photo session, five free calendars and is the featured promo pet for the 2019 calendar.

“Without fundraisers, like the calendar, and donations from the community, we would not be able to keep the doors open,” added Doehner. “It’s the community that helps us fill the gap.”

It’s also shelter partners like Sunshine Mills in Red Bay, Ala.

“We are so blessed to receive weekly donations of dry dog food from Sunshine Mills,” said the director. “We can do a lot with the 1,500 pounds of food we get from them each week.”

The shelter also receives kitty litter donations from Oil Dry in Blue Mountain and the countless donations received from the public including newspapers, cleaning supplies, pet supplies and even aluminum cans for recycling.

“We have so many different ways that the community can help from volunteering to socializing with our animals, to bringing us some old newspapers or a bag of used Coke cans,” said Doehner. “Some very simple things can and have helped us tremendously.”

(To donate to the shelter, visit corinthalcornanimalshelter.com or contact 662-284-5800.)