/A passion for animal welfare Fostering tough but rewarding work in a community ‘overrun by strays’

A passion for animal welfare Fostering tough but rewarding work in a community ‘overrun by strays’

She takes the tiny jaws of her kittens off her feet and gets out of bed to fill 28 bowls, distribute medication, and then heads to work as an author from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. She lets six dogs out when she returns home from work. She feeds five adult cats, Sasha Bella Bella, Gracie Ari, Ari, and Dora – six foster pets, 12 kittens, and two cat moms. She spends time outside with the dogs from 9 to 9, then she plays with the kittens and cats until she goes to sleep at midnight. Bryant explained to Mississippi Today that there are usually limits on the number of foster parents. Bryant is the executive director of Union County Humane Society. She fosters animals. Bryant stated that she still finds it hard to believe that she can follow her passion. After submitting her application to manage social media accounts at the Union County Humane Society, she became a foster in December 2016. She was soon on the board. Bryant stated, “Since my arrival, we have grown our foster network to almost 40 homes, increased our rescue networks above the Mason-Dixon Line and co-hosted our first Microchip Clinic at New Albany with Yellow Rabbit Animal Rescue, based in Benton County.” Bryant receives approximately 1,000 animals each year through her program. Bryant stated, “My head is always on fire from so many emergencies but seeing pictures of animals happy & safe keeps me going.” Bryant can help with any emergency, from a vet forgetting a vital health form to a foster losing their animal to an animal suffering from a medical condition. Bryant replied, “A neighbor wrote me late at night claiming that there was a small starving dog in an overgrown pen. The owner had died more than a month before and nobody knew it was a dog.” This was at midnight. Once I had the address, I called the lawyer. “The board lawyer lived nearby, so she drove in middle of the night to cut through the pen and dig him out.” Although Bryant and her peers continue to work hard to help stray animals, many communities are still struggling with them. Bryant stated that the area is overrun with stray animals. Bryant said, “It’s not unusual for me or anyone else to see a starving stray or scattered litter of puppies or kittens in my area.” Bryant believes that there are many stray animals within her community that everyone who is interested has already selected one. Bryant stated, “I joked that local adoptions are difficult because all the good adopters have the ability to just put out food bowls and get a pet immediately.” “For instance, I had a doctor who was interested in adopting one our kittens. He then found three kittens in a parking garage and brought them home. I was not disappointed. There are now three kittens less to worry about and he took them home with him. Bryant, a rescuer, was interested in 2 kittens she found in her backyard. She then kept them.” Bryant works with northeast organizations to help find homes for these animals. Bryant stated that it is easier to ship them to states with stray animals, like us. Mississippi is not one of the states that has regulations that require sterilization of pets. Doll Stanley, director at the Justice for Animals Campaign, stated that spay/neuter must be in everyone’s minds until legislators realize that it is the only solution to most of these problems. There are many programs across the country and in Mississippi that help pet owners. Spaying and neutering can often be expensive. Mississippi Spay and Neuter, for example, aims to offer affordable sterilization services to pets throughout the state. They use their clinic in Jackson and other facilities to do so. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals provides an interactive map that allows people to find low-cost spay/neuter options. The good news is that people are learning about the program. However, the bad news is it that it drains all of our funding around halfway through the year. Shelby Parsons, Mississippi Spay and Neuter Communications Manager, explained to Mississippi Today that there is a high demand for low-cost spay and neuter services. These programs allow families to access health care that they may not otherwise be able to afford for their pets. Bryant stated that while many rescuers would say people don’t care, it is true that some will. However Bryant said that he has spoken to many owners who love their animals and are just too poor to not. I noticed that poor people have more animals than the rich. They see themselves in their own plight.” Volunteers, foster- and donation options are available for people who wish to support local animal shelters. Rescuers agree that sterilizing pets is the best way to reduce stray dog populations. According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Mississippi is the second-worst state for animals in America. Kentucky has the same ban on veterinarians reporting animal abuse. Bryant says that despite animal rights activists pushing for the updating of animal welfare laws in Mississippi, Bryant does not believe they are being enforced. Bryant stated that animal welfare is not high up on the state’s priority list. It’s just one symptom of a larger problem, Bryant said. …” Foster programs such as the Union County Humane Society rely on volunteers to care for the animals while they are adopted or saved. Maddy’s Fund recently conducted a study that found even short-term stays with foster parents on weekends are better for pets. Bryant also said that animals living in foster homes are less likely than other pets to contract fatal diseases, such as parvovirus. Bryant assisted Meagan Cunnigham in setting up an animal rescue organization in Tippah County. It is still in process of becoming a non-profit. Cunningham is the rescue manager, but she admires Bryant’s efforts across the county. Cunningham said that sometimes she doesn’t understand how Bryant does it. Mississippi Today_x000D