Gadsden partners with rescue group to add space for stray animals
In the ongoing effort to deal with stray animals across Gadsden, the City Council on Tuesday voted to establish a holding center for animals picked up by animal control officers when there is no room at the Humane Society Pet Rescue and Adoption Center.
The city will lease the old transportation building in the 1700 block of Chestnut Street to Carol Huckaby for the low fee of $1 per year.
Huckaby operates animal rescue Huckaby’s Hope for Paws. The organization has been a 501(c)3 nonprofit since 2020, and it strives to care for and adopt as many animals as possible.
Huckaby sent 1,200 animals across the country last year, according to Public Safety Committee Chairman Ben Reed.
Reed said she has agreed to provide a “holding tank” for animals that cannot be immediately cared for by HSPRAC. The city contracts with HSPRAC to house the animals that are picked up, but the large number of strays in the area keeps the shelter full
“We’re picking up the slack ourselves,” Reed said, thanks to this deal with Huckaby’s Hope for Paws.
“We try to help out as much as we can,” Huckaby said. She and Mitchell Chastain spoke to the council about their efforts and the ongoing problem of unwanted dogs and cats in the city.
Both had nothing but praise for HSPRAC and its new director, Mike Jeffcoat, but Chastain said, “They’re just overwhelmed.”
Huckaby said the spacious building will allow the rescue to house animals and hold city pickups to get more animals off the streets.
The most important step may be the one taken before the animals are released, no matter where they go.
Huckaby said all animals are neutered and spayed, given all vaccines and released with a health certificate, and that’s whether someone pays to fly the animal to Wyoming or New York, or s’ he adopts locally.
Chastain said there was a man who made a route from Vermont across the country, collecting animals from rescues such as Huckaby’s and taking them to other parts of the country where people were eager to adopt them.
Unfortunately, he said, Gadsden is near the end of the animal advocate’s route.
The arrangement will help both the Huckaby rescue and the city in dealing with the animals. Reed pointed to the numbers adopted by Huckaby’s organization and added that some 200 animals were adopted by HSPRAC last year.
But Huckaby said — as HSPRAC staff have done for ages — neutering pets is key to reducing the stray animal problem.
“We can’t get away with it,” she said, noting that it’s crucial to work with local vets to ensure animals are “fixed” before being adopted.
Even when adopted animals are too young to be spayed or spayed before leaving the shelter, she said, adopters commit to having the procedure performed — and she checks them out.
Huckaby’s rescue effort depends on donations and needs volunteers. They have to pay to feed and house all those rescued animals, and they have vet bills for care. “We’ve had a lot of sick animals,” she said, and vet bills are an ongoing issue.
Huckaby said they now have pets in the vet’s offices – a puppy with parvo and a dog who will lose a leg. “It all costs money,” she said.
Council members inquired about the cost of the cages that would be needed to contain the animals at the Chestnut Street location; Chastain said they didn’t really know. They make a lot of the cages they use themselves and don’t buy them.
The construction lease begins April 1. For more information or to donate to Huckaby’s rescue, visit his Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/HuckabysHopeForPaws.
Contact Gadsden Times reporter Donna Thornton at 256-393-3284 or [email protected]