Adopt-a-pet this month at shelter

Published 4:47 pm Wednesday, October 26, 2005

By By Janet Little Cooper
The month of October is observed nationwide as adopt- a-pet month in an effort to find homes for the many animals living in shelters. But in Atmore, every day is adopt -a – pet day at the Atmore Animal Shelter.
The shelter operated by the city's animal control unit, averages five adoptions a month.
Appointments can be made to visit the shelter and the occupants who are available for adoption. Currently, the shelter is home to 15 cats, seven of which are kittens and 18 dogs. Two of the dogs are labs, one black and one yellow.
The animals that are awaiting a home of their own to go to come to the shelter as a either a stray that was brought in by someone or is picked up wandering the streets by the Animal Control Unit.
The unit only services the city limits of Atmore. A county control unit takes care of anything outside the city limits. The unit handles animal complaints and pickups.
"It is usually slow this time of the year." Animal control officer and shelter director, Rhonda Kelmer said, "During the summer we average at least 30 calls a day."
The control unit has had some unusual calls over the years involving Shetland ponies, pot belly pigs, goats, chickens, cows, iguanas, snakes, raccoons, possums and alligators.
Wildlife Rehabilitation facilities are called in when an unusual animal comes through the facility, such as injured hawks or owls.
Another responsibility of the ACU is to respond to claims of animal abandonment or abuse. The animal unit collects evidence from the scene and takes pictures of the suspected abuse. Animal control issues a warrant for the owners arrest and the police pick them up. The control officers then carry the cases to court where they are considered a felony.
"If you break the laws on the animal ordinance." Kelmer said, "It goes on your record. Abandonment and abuse of an animal is a felony."
The shelter provides a safe haven for animals that have been abandoned, lost or abused. They are nursed back to health with the assistance of veterinarian Tommy Moore from the Atmore Animal Hospital. All of the shelter animals are spay and neutered before being adopted out to a new home.
Animal control officers Kathryn Wheeler and Lori Armenti agree with Kilmer about their favorite part of the job – seeing the animals go to good homes.
"I like seeing the animals playing in a yard, healthy and happy instead of picking them up hungry and alone." Wheeler said.

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