The History of Sarge’s Animal Rescue Foundation

Sometimes a sad event can be the catalyst for huge, positive changes — such was the case with the founding of Sarge’s Animal Rescue Foundation. In 2005, Sarge, a German Shepherd dog, was in the Haywood County Animal Shelter and slated to be rescued. However, before the rescue could get to the shelter, the dog was euthanized.

This led Sarge’s founder, Nancy Bulluck, and others, to form Sarge’s, which was originally part of HAWA (Haywood Animal Welfare Association). In 2006, Sarge’s Animal Rescue Foundation became an independent organization, certified as a 501(c)(3) non-profit to focus solely on rescuing and finding loving, forever homes for dogs and cats.

However, there is no simple, happy ending — rescuing animals and bringing joy and happiness to the adopters is a never-ending journey that needs to be sustainable.

Early years

An initial focus on building a shelter for cats and dogs morphed into a plan to focus on reducing the euthanasia rate for healthy dogs and cats at the Haywood County Animal Shelter (HCAS) using multiple means. It was clear that Sarge’s needed its own building to house animals during the day and to hold adoptions events.

In late 2008 – early 2009, Sarge’s moved into a building on South Main Street in Waynesville, which also served as a headquarters. In the beginning, fosters played a key and main part in the housing and socialization of rescued animals. Local kennels were used until forever homes could be found.

Offsite adoptions were routinely held at the Asheville PetSmart and on the grassy lawn of the local Ingles. In addition, dog transports to no-kill shelters up north and some cat transports to Atlanta became part of the routine to save more animals.

Need for larger building

By 2011, Sarge’s needed a larger building, and found it at 256 Industrial Park Drive, in Waynesville. With this building, Sarge’s could hold animals overnight and Sarge’s became a licensed shelter. The number of local adoptions accelerated and soon became the larger source of rescues.

During the span of Sarge’s existence, the thousands of dogs and cats placed in forever homes have brought immense joy and happiness to adopters. The work of Sarge’s Animal Rescue Foundation, helps make the community a better place to live, work and raise a family — with the inclusion of loving animals into our homes.

The effort takes a huge number of volunteers, adopters and funding.

But, the payoff is great. By early 2018, Sarge’s was proud to note that it has rescued more than 8,200 animals in its 12-year history.

Between the HCAS, Sarge’s, and the other Haywood County animal rescue organizations, live save rates for both cats and dogs has averaged over 92% for the past two years.

The great live release rate is recognized as ‘no-kill status,’ and this status is the dream of all rescue programs. In fact, Haywood County is one of only three counties in the state of North Carolina to achieve ‘no-kill status.’ Reaching that level means hundreds of animals that were once left behind each year are now finding homes.

Relationship with Haywood County Animal Shelter

Sarge’s has always worked closely with the Haywood County Animal Shelter, which has been and is the primary source of animals coming into Sarge’s care.

It was well-known that the old Haywood County Animal Shelter, dating back to 1988, had become inadequate and outdated to care for the volume of animals coming through its doors. Building a new Haywood County Animal Shelter was approved by the county commissioners September, 2016.

During the county’s process of considering building a new animal shelter, the Haywood County commissioners and HCAS proposed that Sarge’s become the ‘official adoption partner’ of the new county animal shelter. It was recognized that Sarge’s expertise and professionalism in animal adoptions would be an asset to the county shelter.

At its March 2018 annual meeting, Sarge’s announced the agreement with Haywood County that Sarge’s personnel will manage the adoption side of the new shelter. The result is that Sarge’s professionals will facilitate a great majority of dog and cat adoptions in the county.

Sarge’s present Industrial Park Drive Adoption Center will continue to provide needed shelter capacity and adoptions. There is such a need for homeless dogs and cats in Haywood County, more capacity is needed than just the new county shelter.

The county will now administer the same basic medical protocol used by Sarge’s, upgrading the care every animal receives before adoption from the shelter. And, Sarge’s will expand its focus to resolve animal behavior issues, as needed.

In addition, Sarge’s is committed to supporting area programs, such as spay/neuter initiatives to help alleviate the need for dogs and cats to even enter the Adoption Center/Shelter.

The new Haywood County Animal Shelter, on Jones Cove Road, opened April, 2018.

The need for funding continues

Since the HCAS is not funded for more advanced medical or behavioral rehabilitation needs, many of those cases will flow to Sarge’s, requiring funding for the medical attention, and for the extended hold periods associated with socialization and behavioral challenges.

When considering donating to Sarge’s Animal Rescue Foundation, think about the facts:

  • The average length-of-stay per animal is increasing significantly for the Haywood County Animal Shelter and for Sarge’s.
  • Longer stays mean Sarge’s will need to house more animals than in the past. Two-and-a-half years ago, Sarge’s average overnight population was 12-15 dogs; now 40 or more is not out of the ordinary.
  • The need to feed, clean, walk, administer medical, and perform administrative procedures will be larger, and staff must be well-trained.
  • Accordingly, Sarge’s now has multiple vet techs and a certified behaviorist on staff.
  • Medical expenses are higher, as Sarge’s treats conditions like heartworms, parvo, and having dental issues resolved.
  • Sarge’s Animal Rescue Foundation is now able to place many more of the wonderful, but sometimes under-appreciated, breeds such as hounds and pit bull terriers.

This expanded-care path will allow the HCAS and Sarge’s to continue to achieve the high live-release rates currently in place.

Please consider adopting, fostering, volunteering and donating to Sarge’s. It’s all about the animals.

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