‘I am asking for your help’; Nichols talks animal shelter fundraiser

Published 11:01 am Tuesday, April 27, 2021

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Carl Nichols, who is the secretary for the Claiborne County Animal Shelter, says he hopes everyone will get onboard with a fundraiser that will help maintain a large portion of the numerous services the shelter provides.

The fundraiser, running through June 30, will involve purchasing a laser engraved commemorative brick or paver to build a walkway at the shelter.

“Buy a brick in memory of a family member, of a pet or for you,” said Nichols. “Know that not only is a walkway being built. Most importantly, it is building the ‘Hope Fund’ so that hundreds of animals can look forward to a healthy and happy forever home.

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“You may not know that the shelter does an intake of approximately 350 to 400 or more animals per month, which equates to about 5,000 each year. That is a huge service to the community but a tremendous financial burden on the shelter.”

Nichols says there are three distinct groups of animals that are accepted.

“The first group is those animals that are healthy and adoptable. Every animal that comes into the shelter is bathed, receives its shots, neutered or spayed, and micro-chipped.

“If you regularly visit the shelter you have noticed that often there are very few if any animals there. The reason for this is, once our animals have received their basic medical care and they are ready to travel, they are put into containers, for travel purposes only, and into the back of our transport van. These healthy adoptable animals are transported to approximately 12 Northern and Northeastern states where shelters are often practically empty.

“The reason is, those states and cities have such strict leash and spay/neuter laws. These states do not produce so many unwanted puppies and kittens. Very few animals are picked up on the street and brought into shelters often creating a pet shortage. When we take our healthy animals to these northern shelters they are almost immediately adopted to families. Most of our animals have pre-approved applications and their new owners are waiting for them as soon as they are unloaded from the transport van. The adoption rate is 100 percent for those animals,” said Nichols.

Sometimes, the shelter receives seriously ill animals who are injured, malnourished, grossly abused, abandoned or who have escaped from puppy mills or have been used in organized dog fights.

“Often, we realize these animals are so badly injured that there is no hope for them. It is then that our veterinarian and Misti Roberts, the shelter Director, makes the difficult decision to euthanize these sick and hopelessly injured animals.

“Let me make it perfectly clear. Never has there been a healthy, adoptable animal euthanized to make room for other animals. If our shelter gets crowded, that’s when we fire up the transport van, load those healthy animals and take them to northern locations where they find their forever homes,” said Nichols.

Those animals that are not quite healthy enough for transport but not sick or injured enough to be euthanized are evaluated to see if they can be treated.

“In this group we often see animals that have been hit by cars, were shot, mistreated or in fights with other animals. In order to make them whole again, it may require surgery, amputation, removal of an eye, extraction of teeth or suturing lacerations. The treatment for the animals in this group is not included in our annual shelter operating budget. The money to care for these ‘in the middle’ sick or injured animals comes from a special fund that we have created called the Hope Fund.

“The money in the Hope Fund comes from donations, fundraisers and contributions. If it were not for the Hope Fund, we would only have two groups in this discussion – those that come in healthy and those that come into the shelter too critically injured to survive. These two groups are included in our operating budget,” said Nichols. “It’s expensive for an animal to have surgery or an amputation. It often takes weeks of recovery with medication and antibiotics. I’m sure many have seen in the past some of our animals that came to us that were so injured, starved and critical we didn’t know if they would make it through the day. Then the next photograph posted on Facebook you see them in the arms of their new pet parents headed to their happy forever home. That is our big success stories – caring and providing medical attention to those animals in the middle group.  If it were not for the Hope Fund there would be no hope for that group.”

The Realty Group, one of Nichols’ businesses, is spearheading the fundraiser. These much-needed dollars will go directly into the Hope Fund, which receives no grant monies, no county government funds nor any funding for the rendered services.

“It takes every dime of those funds to operate the shelter. The Hope Fund exists solely from donations and contributions.

“I want to ask, encourage and maybe even do a little begging to all my former students that I had during the 32 years of my education career. You know that often I went out on a limb for all of you. It’s time for you to return the favor. Also, to the thousands of real estate agents that have come through my real estate classes. I want to include the thousands of clients and customers that have been served by the Realty Group over the past 22 years. I want to include all the faculty and staff members that I have worked with over the years. I want to include all those people with which I have sat on local and state boards. Finally, I want to include all my Facebook friends and family to support the shelter by giving to this fundraiser.”

The 4”x 8’ bricks cost $100 each and can hold up to 3 lines of 14 characters including spaces. Businesses may purchase an 8” x 8” paver for $200 each that can include up to 4 lines of 14 characters.

The bricks and pavers may be purchased from any Realty Group agent. Or, you can make your purchase at the Realty Group office, located at 513 Main St. in New Tazewell.

You may also purchase a brick or paver by dropping in to the shelter, located at 674 Ritchie and Lewis Drive in New Tazewell.

Credit and debit cards may be used at these two locations.

You can request an order form by calling the Realty Group office at 423-626-6353 or email at: realtygrouptn@yahoo.com.

Cash, checks made payable to the Claiborne County Animal Shelter along with credit or debit cards are accepted.

“We are so blessed to have this animal shelter available to the Claiborne County Community. I have served on the board of directors for more than 10 years. I have watched it grow from our ‘little shelter’ to a major business operation. I’m asking everyone to support my request. Help me help those injured, weak and frightened  animals so the shelter can help them in their quest of finding a forever happy and safe home,” said Nichols.