Animal Protection Society in Henderson, NC has been instrumental in saving many death row dogs from Vance County Animal Control since 2010. Ruin Creek’s Kerri Kelly, a dedicated volunteer, agreed to be interviewed regarding the rescue and the daily challenges they face.
Denise: When was Ruin Creek Animal Protection Society founded and who founded it?
Kerri: Ruin Creek started out as Advocates for Vance County Animals in 2010. It was created by Angie Rowland. The shelter had animals freezing on the floor since there was no heat at the shelter during the winter months; newborn pups were actually freezing to death on the cold concrete. Angie put out a plea on her personal Facebook page for blankets & the shelter was inundated with them. Seeing the response, she created a Facebook page. Through the Facebook page she came across Brandon Boyd, a member of the community who felt and knew he could help as well. He created the 501c3 non-profit Ruin Creek Animal Protection Society of Henderson, to which the Advocates group blended into RCAPS in 2011.
Denise: Were the current conditions at Vance County Animal Shelter the driving force behind the founding of RCAPS?
Kerri: The current conditions and the way the animals were being treated were the driving force behind the founding of RCAPS. Animals were being brought into the shelter and killed immediately. No chance was given. The animals in the shelter were suffering and no one was paying attention. The shelter itself is archaic & outdated, and the county officials have been unwilling to discuss making improvements. The killing of animals and the fact that no one was helping them when they could be saved motivated a movement to hold the county & shelter accountable.
Denise: How many volunteers currently work with RCAPS?
Kerri: Currently there are approximately 10 volunteers for RCAPS. We are desperate for more help both locally and from afar. Each and every volunteer is needed and invaluable.
Denise: What are the statistics at Vance County Animal Shelter as far as the amount of dogs taken in each year?
Kerri: In 2012, it is reported that 3,677 animals came into the Vance County Animal Shelter, of which 2150 were dogs, 1471 were cats (the others consist of rabbits, raccoons & opossums)
Denise: Since its inception how many animals’ lives have been saved from death by RCAPS?
Kerri: RCAPS has facilitated the rescue of over 8,000 animals that would have otherwise been killed. Death row sadly remains a constant at the shelter but we are working hard to save them so that they live to see a bright future with loving families. An average of 275 are saved each month through the tireless efforts of the RCAPS volunteers and its supporters.
Denise: After the animals are pulled from Vance County Shelter by RCAPS what is the procedure for getting each one into a foster or forever home?
Kerri: RCAPS networks the animals to rescue groups across the northeast & mid-Atlantic states. We have a screening process with application & reference checks for rescue groups to ensure that we are placing the animals with reputable groups who will then place them into foster homes & ultimately find adoptive families.
Denise: Do you see a rise in the number of animals relinquished by their owners as opposed to previous years?
Kerri: Sadly the numbers recently have been increasing. The first week of August over 60 animals were dumped at the Vance County shelter in just two days. The shelter is a small, county run facility with very limited space, 15 dog runs and a small cat room about the size of a closet, so it is critical that we move them to safety as quickly as possible as more continue to pour into the shelter.
Denise: What are the most common reasons people are giving for having to relinquish their pets to a shelter?
Kerri: We view them as excuses rather than valid reasons; 98% of the time it is simply irresponsibility on the part of the owner. “accidental litters” because they didn’t have their pets spayed or neutered and allowed them to run free through the neighborhood & moving to where they aren’t allowed to have pets are the two most common excuses given.
Denise: Do you pull injured or sick animals; those that have lesser chances of being adopted?
Kerri: The shelter does not cover emergency vet care for these animals. Without help from RCAPS they will not get the care needed. We struggle to pay for them as we are just a handful of shelter volunteers, not a rescue group so we don’t get any adoption fees to help with costs, and no reimbursement or help from the county or shelter. We’re just a few people trying to keep them alive and not allow them to suffer at the shelter. The first 7 months of 2013 our vet bills were over $95,000.
Denise: What is the average cost per animal from the time you pull them from Vance County Shelter to the time you get them into rescue?
Kerri: As long as the animal isn’t sick or injured, our cost is roughly $80-100. We have to pay the shelter’s vaccination fee, flea/tick medication, heartworm test for dogs, FIV/FELV test for cats, health certificate, and transport.
Denise: How do you obtain money to keep your rescue going being a nonprofit organization?
Kerri: We are only able to continue to help the animals of Vance County as long as we have donations coming in. We have seen a drop during the summer months and are truly struggling to continue our mission to save the animals that so desperately need our help.
Denise: If readers would like to learn more about your RCAPS or donate to help and sponsor the animals what web site can they go to?
Kerri: Our facebook page has the most current information & photos of the animals on death row, needing medical care, and also those who have been saved.
Denise: Thank you Kerri for all you and the other volunteers do for the sake of the animals. We all know animal rescue is not glamorous and no one ever gets rich from it. We admire your spirit and determination to save the lives of those deemed disposable.
Please help RCAPS continue their important work.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead
About the Author
Denise Carey-Costa has been a lifelong advocate for animals. She has written numerous children’s books promoting kindness and compassion for all creatures and raising awareness for the plight of unwanted animals. Denise tours with her books to schools and libraries teaching the importance of spaying and neutering your pets, adopting a shelter pet and how to report animal cruelty. Visit Amazon.com and all other book retailers to see books written by Denise Carey-Costa.