It all started with a dog named Taco. Now our very own evening jock, Holly Haze, is making a difference in our community. Here is how it all started in Holly’s own words.
“Honestly, I had no idea just a few short months ago that I would be volunteering so much of my time to save shelter dogs. While I love every rescue and organization that uses their resources to help animals, my heart shelter is Animal Care and Control in Charlotte. Let me tell you how it all started and how you can help.
Back in April, I posted a picture of a cute dog named Taco. Taco was even smiling in the picture. I was so proud of myself; using my radio station voice to spread the word on this sweet dog. Taco had almost 10,000 views and almost 200 shares. A week later I found out Taco was euthanized. I failed Taco. I cried. My family thought I was crazy. I sat in my chair at home and I sobbed because I thought sharing a picture would save his life. I was so affected that I signed up to become a volunteer AND a foster. I started sharing pictures of dogs all over the radio station’s socials. The digital team thought I lost my mind! I went to the Vice President of our radio cluster and I told her that I needed to do more. I came up with a segment called Furry Friday; every Friday we feature a dog in our listening area that is up for adoption, through the shelter or a local rescue. I instantly started contacting area rescues. I spent hours talking on the phone and composing emails.
I was on a roll.
A week later, I was at the shelter every day, taking a dog out for what’s called a daycation. I would walk into the shelter and ask which dog had been there the longest without any interaction. I would take them for a car ride to my house, give them a bath in my front yard, take them for a walk around the neighborhood and let them play in my backyard. Every single dog that I did a daycation with got adopted or fostered!! Every time I brought one back to the shelter, I would cry. They deserved more. I had to do more.
Animal Care and Control was quickly becoming my second home. The days leading into Memorial Day weekend, an email went out that the shelter was overcrowded and tough decisions were going to have to be made regarding euthanasia. By the way, this happens before every holiday, but for some reason the summer holidays hit them the hardest. My daughter and I jumped in the car and drove there with a collar and a leash because by golly, we were going to save the day. We were there for over three hours, and it was the most traumatizing day. We saw countless people surrendering their dogs. We saw careless pet owners bringing in their sick and/or dying dogs due to neglect. But for all the bad things we saw, we powered through and brought home a dog that had been completely shut down, meaning they gave up on life. Some dogs do just fine in the shelter. If a dog is used to being chained to a tree in the backyard, the shelter is a great reprieve. Many times, however, the dogs are scared and start to deteriorate very quickly. The cacophony of barking, whining and howling dogs is hard to hear; almost unbearable. They are quite literally begging to be saved.
On May 31, my daughter and I brought home a dog that we named June, because June 1 would be the first day of her new life. Everyone that knows me knew that it would be a complete foster fail which is what they call it in the foster community. We DID end up keeping her, but that’s a different story. I felt like I failed because if I kept June, I would not be able to foster more dogs (I have 3 dogs now).
While I have not fostered any more (as of yet), I have done many more things to save many more dogs.
I am very fortunate to be in the media. When I share a post about a dog, it goes out to thousands of people. That is pretty remarkable. That in itself helps save many dogs’ lives. I have also co-fostered dogs. That simply means I work with another foster to save a dog. We split up the duties. The dog can stay at their house. The dog can stay at my house. You just work that out with the other foster. There is also temporary fostering. This might appeal to someone who does not want to commit to fostering full-time. We have an amazing group of fosters at Char Meck Animal Control. There is an app where you can put a post about needing temporary fostering or assistance if you’re going on a trip or simply just need a break.
Sometimes people get overwhelmed with the idea of fostering because they have a very busy life. I promise you that your house is 1000 times better than the stress of the shelter. If you are a place of business, a truck driver, a working mom or dad, or an at-home mom or dad, consider fostering. When you foster a dog from the shelter, you save two dogs’ lives. The dog you bring home, and that frees up a kennel space for another dog to come in to the shelter.
During the pandemic, people decided it was a great idea to adopt a dog. The local shelters were thrilled. Their capacity numbers were at an all time low. Today, that is not the case. Once people started going back to work and going on vacations, they decided the dogs were disposable. That, combined with not spaying or neutering your dog and overbreeding, has caused an influx of dogs (and cats) at area shelters nationwide.
Just a few days ago, Char Meck ACC took in 93 dogs in ONE day. 93.
Animal Care and Control is under renovations, but these renovations are merely to get the building up to code, not make it larger. The city of Charlotte has grown immensely since that shelter was first built. With human population growth, the animal population grows as well. The city has failed these animals. We need to do better. Since this has come to my attention, I have contacted my district city councilman and the mayor. I encourage you to do the same.
In the long run, we need legislation and enforcement. Felony backyard breeding / hoarding laws ….and uphold them! Mandatory spay and neuter. For the costs of injections or gas to kill them, the city could fund a free spay/neuter government initiative.
In addition to fostering, our shelter relies heavily on volunteers. They help with the front desk, walking the dogs, the laundry, the clinic, the baths, the photos for social media, and more. When I signed up to be a volunteer, I had no idea how rewarding it would be. I am there at least four days a week, mainly walking the dogs. I try to walk at least four dogs every time I go. One day a week I take a dog out for a daycation. I post countless dogs on social media for Mix 1079 and of course give special attention to one every Furry Friday. I log anywhere from 10 to 15 hours a week in addition to working six days a week, and taking care of my family and household.
There are many ways you can help. You can sign up to be a foster. It takes no time at all, and you are approved pretty quickly! You can sign up to become a volunteer. Since that goes to the police department, it’s a little bit more extensive, but then you are a volunteer for all of a CMPD and that also comes with great perks.
You can do a staycation. This is an amazing opportunity that our local shelter provides. It means you can pick up the dog and bring it to your house and see how it does for a couple of nights. It’s a great way to see how your other resident pets and the new potential dog get along.
You can foster. It’s easier than you think and very rewarding. The dogs’ behavior at the shelter is completely different once they leave. They deserve that chance to shine.
Both of these choices are great ways to provide feedback to the shelter in case someone needs good notes about the dog.
And, lastly, of course, adopt. There are so many great dogs, and with how many are being dumped on a daily basis, so many are being put down. There are really hard days and a lot of tears, but I am making a list of dogs I have personally saved (24 so far!) and I make myself look at it on those tough days.
Lastly, and I cannot stress this enough, I am very fortunate to work for a company that supports my mission. Without getting into boring details about radio, things have changed drastically in the business. It is very hard to find local community efforts because everything is recorded elsewhere. At Mix 1079, we truly care about the community. I am proud to be part of this team and will continue to use my voice.”
“Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever”.
To learn more about fostering and volunteering, click here:
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