Every year since 2012 LCAH, TCAC, and CCCC have hosted the Pet Celebration on the Historic Hayesville Square. All events celebrate the human/pet bond and the pure joy pets bring to our lives, but in addition to it being lots of fun, we do it for a very serious cause.

We have all seen stray cats and dogs in the area. You may call them a nuisance or they may pull at your heart strings, but none of us, individually, can take care of all of the cats and dogs who desperately need homes. That’s where our local rescue groups and humane societies come in.

Numerous groups in our four-county area work tirelessly to provide food, shelter and medical care for strays and surrendered pets. Costs for staffing, facilities, and maintenance, as well as pet care, are overwhelming. Lake Chatuge Animal Hospital in Young Harris and Lake Chatuge Animal Hospital in Murphy help during the year by providing low cost spay/neuter services but we know by involving the community many more potential pets can find a furrever home.

Here are some statistics gathered from five of the 12 local groups we support:

Wholly Cats: Wholly Cats in Blairsville, GA took in 277 kitties last year. About 20 were pregnant or nursing adults, the rest were kittens. Many of the kittens were bottle baby orphans. Fifty found local homes; the rest went on transport to partner rescues in the northeast.

New Digs For Dogs: In 2017 New Digs for Dogs, located in Brasstown, NC, helped 20 dogs get healthy and find new homes. In 2014 (their first year) the number was around 85. During that time Valley River Humane Society became low kill and made tremendous strides in animal care and transporting. They have no problem taking a stray, knowing the best future for the animal is to be transported!! We are so proud of them! They say their focus and need is with owner-surrendered dogs. Owners don’t want to take them to a shelter to rehome without being certain about where their new home will be. The organization New Digs works with in the Boston area has a home for them before they ever leave.

North Georgia SPCA: The stats for the North Georgia SPCA in Young Harris, GA are as follows: Cats—38 spays / 30 neuters; Dogs—23 spays / 5 neuters. They also rescued 9 cats and fostered them until they were adopted.

Operation Pup: Operation Pup located in Hiawassee, GA did neuters and rabies vaccines for 50 cats and 4 dogs and spays and rabies vaccines for 62 cats and 13 dogs in 2017. So far in 2018 they neutered 17 cats and 3 dogs and spayed 4 cats and 3 dogs and provided rabies vaccines for all. They helped find homes for many local cats and kittens, either by transporting north or running adoption days locally. Some of their volunteers feed feral cat colonies daily, using their own money to buy cat food. This has gone on 7 days a week, year round, for the last 10+ years (see below).

Lucky Paws Cat Rescue: Lucky Paws Cat Rescue (pending 501c3) located in Warne, NC is run by one man, affectionately called “The Cat Whisperer”. Carl Haines tirelessly and without thought of cost to him, has provided food, shelter and medical care over the years for hundreds of feral cats located in Towns, Union, Clay and Cherokee Counties. Carl has rescued over 45 kittens this year alone. If he cannot find homes for them, one of the local shelters helps out with adoptions. He, in turn, will occasionally foster cats for another rescue group when needed. His twice daily feeding rounds cover about 150 miles to give wet and dry food to up to 50 cats in various locations. Carl provides these life-saving services for forgotten kitties without any regular outside funding.

This is why each September we host Pet Celebration on the Hayesville Square. Participating rescue groups and Humane Societies set up booths and bring in pets awaiting adoption. The scheduled events are pet-oriented to draw families and pet lovers alike. Generous gift item donations from local businesses and patrons allow us to set up a silent auction tent to raise funds and when these proceeds are added to corporate donations and the vaccine clinic it enables us to present each participating group with a check to help defray their annual expenses and keep their doors open.

If you love animals and want to help these marvelous rescue groups save lives and prevent unnecessary suffering, please support them with your time, talent and/or treasure. Join us this year on September 22nd from 8am-2pm for a full day of events celebrating the human/pet bond and the pure joy pets bring to our lives.

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