As the temperatures drop and people bundle up under blankets, few may think of the neglected and homeless animals in need of a permanent home who are out in the cold. Thankfully, there are organizations dedicated to rescuing abandoned canines, felines and other pets.
While Alabama may not get as chilly as other parts of the country, the Greater Birmingham Humane Society knows that animals from all corners of the U.S. need permanent homes, regardless of weather conditions.
Who they are
Founded in 1883, the GBHS is Alabama’s largest and oldest animal welfare society, giving the organization a unique perspective on changes within the community. Yet it’s never far removed from its original mission “to promote respect for life through education and prevention of cruelty to animals and people,” as first explained by its founder, John Herbert Phillips.
The GBHS is an open-access humane society, which means that they accept any owned animal in need of veterinary and housing services. However, they don’t operate as an animal control agency, opting instead to care for unwanted animals dropped off by members of the community. Because of this, the GBHS operates independently from the state, receiving no funding from the county, state or federal government. All of its financial support comes from fundraising events and the generosity of its donors.
One of the GBHS’ unique features is its Pet Pantry program, which strives to keep animals and their families together during trying times. If people can’t afford to take care of their pets, they can drop them off at the facility for a period of time until they can comfortably provide for them. These counseling services help ensure that owners never lose track of their beloved pooches and kittens.
What they do
The GBHS offers a variety of programs that facilitate animal care and provide safe havens to disadvantaged pets. For example, the organization coordinates humane education classes for children in the surrounding area. A GBHS licensed educator visits schools and gives pet-friendly lessons about animal welfare that follow Alabama state curriculum.
In addition, the society opens its doors to volunteers from all over the state to assist in animal care. Recently, the GBHS teamed up with Auburn University to offer on-site pet surgeries at an abandoned veterinary hospital in the nearby town of Hoover. It also allows people of all ages to help pets through a wide variety of volunteer positions, which can be therapeutic for the volunteers themselves.