One of the biggest issues facing domesticated animals in Middle Tennessee is pet overpopulation. Many ongoing animal-related issues – including dog bites, disease, animal hoarding, cruelty to animals, and high euthanasia rates in shelters – ultimately stem from overpopulation, which has posed a complex dilemma in Middle Tennessee and across the country for decades.
Nonprofit groups throughout Middle Tennessee have been working to combat this issue through free or low-cost spay/neuter services and educational programming on the effects of pet overpopulation. Some government-funded animal-control programs also offer spay/neuter and adoption services. Additionally, many shelters will not put animals up for adoption until they have been spayed/neutered.
The Metro Nashville Animal Care and Control (MACC) is a great example of the outcome these efforts can create. In 1998, it was estimated that they had a 97% kill rate by the National Animal Care & Control Association. The shelter was limited by space constraints and low adoption rates compared to the high number of animals brought to the facility. Improvements to the facility, the addition of an adoption screening requirement, and the advocacy of spay-neuter services have completely turned things around at MACC.
According to an article published in The Nashville Scene in 2015, MACC’s current euthanasia rate stands at 20%. Government-owned shelters are required by law to put down dangerous animals, so there will always be some euthanasia performed.
Laura Wilson, who works with the spay/neuter assistance program at Country K-9 Rescue says, “I am very encouraged to see something like this happening because it can be a model for other counties to emulate. We have a very long way to go but we are moving in the right direction!”
Other pressing animal welfare issues in Middle Tennessee include farm animal abuse and the care of exotic animals and unwanted pets (i.e., potbellied pigs and reptiles.)
Late in 2009, Middle Tennessee saw one of the worst equine abuses in its history. Eighty-four horses were rescued from a farm in Cannon County by a team of local volunteers, the Equine Advocates of Gallatin, and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The surviving animals suffered from starvation, infections, wounds, abscesses, and parasites. The price tag for this rescue was approximately $250,000.
In May of 2010 the floodwaters that swept through our region also affected pet owners in specific ways. Pet shelters were provided by nonprofits, and pet rescues and recovery were among the valuable volunteer efforts of that traumatic time. Pet food and supplies became coveted items.
Rapid growth of the human population in Middle Tennessee also contributes to the increasing numbers of unwanted pets. Animal neglect is often related to economic conditions, and shelters report an increase in unwanted pets during an economic downturn.
How You Can Help:
- Support a spay and neuter program. The average cost is $40-$100 for a pet less than 50 pounds.
- Donate to or volunteer with one of the nonprofit organizations listed on GivingMatters.com that works to end animal cruelty, tirelessly seek out ways to control pet overpopulation, and find loving homes for pet adoption.
- Support an animal-welfare educational program for school children.
- Sponsor retention programs that would help keep pets in low-income homes.
- Provide a safe and healthy home for a pet available for adoption.
Community Foundation Funds for Animal Welfare:
ANIMAL WELFARE FIELD-OF-INTEREST FUND
The Animal Welfare Fund was created in 2005 by a group of community leaders concerned about the growing inability of our community to provide sufficient charitable resources to care for animals. This endowment focuses its grantmaking on supporting: the health and welfare of all animals in Middle Tennessee; the control of the population of animals; and the training of animals for use in aiding people with disabilities and assisting in both crime prevention and search and rescue.
INGRAM FUND TO BENEFIT THE NASHVILLE HUMANE ASSOCIATION (NHA)
The Nashville Humane Association’s roots can be traced back to a society founded in 1887 to protect children from inhumane working conditions and draft horses from mistreatment. Incorporated in 1946 to protect the well-being of animals in Davidson County, the NHA continues to promote education and the humane treatment of animals through animal adoptions, injured animal rescue, pet therapy programs, lost and found services, and free spay/neuter programs for low-income families.
MERLE’S ANGELS ADVISED FUND
This Fund has been established with The Community Foundation to honor the donor's beloved dog, Merle. The Fund is intended to provide specialized surgical care to homeless animals with repairable injuries. The idea is to take these homeless animals with no chance, and give them every chance. The hope is that such treatment will enable these animals to be adopted rather than euthanized.
PATRICIA AND EDWARD J. MCGAVOCK HUMANE TREATMENT OF ANIMALS FUND
PRINCE NICKOLAI SPAY AND NEUTER FUND
He’s been mistaken for a polar bear and frightened a fair share of visitors, but underneath Prince Nickolai’s enormous frame is a sweet dog and steadfast companion. Prince Nickolai has a good home. He’s lucky. His doting owner, Beverly Small, says she inherited her love of animals from her mother and father. But not every animal is loved and cherished or even given much chance for survival. “I’ve seen too many unwanted animals suffer and be put to sleep,” said Small. She created this Fund to address issues of animal welfare and particularly, to invest in spaying and neutering programs which will help ensure that fewer unwanted puppies and kittens are euthanized each year.
ST. FRANCIS FUND FOR ANIMALS
This Fund was established to permanently endow animal rights and causes in Middle Tennessee. The under-girding principle is that “we should be stewards of all God’s creations and live in harmony with nature.” Grants have supported the Maury County Animal Shelter, Lawrence County Humane Association, Walden’s Puddle, People for Animals, Buffalo River Services, and many others. The founder asks all those interested in animal welfare to join in supporting this Fund.
TENNESSEE WALKING HORSE FOUNDATION AGENCY ENDOWMENT
The Tennessee Walking Horse Foundation encourages support of charitable, scientific and educational projects for the welfare of the Tennessee Walking Horse. This Fund will assist in the support of such programs as Second Careers Adopt-a-Horse and Youth and Therapeutic Riding and Driving.
THE MONICA JICHA/DENNY PALAMARCHUCK SPAY AND NEUTER ASSISTANCE FUND
THE TERRI SHUMSKY FUND FOR YORKSHIRE TERRIERS
The Terri Shumsky Fund for Yorkshire Terriers was established by the Yorkshire Terrier National Rescue as a memorial and tribute to Terri Shumsky for her everlasting devotion to the welfare of the Yorkshire Terrier breed. The fund exists to support the University of Tennessee’s Angel Fund and its work to eliminate genetic illnesses in Yorkshire Terriers.
Updated 5/9/16 by Kathryn Bennett