Catoosa Citizens for Animal Care (CCAC) has gone through many changes since it was founded 24 years ago. The organization began with a newspaper article inviting citizens to come together to help abandoned animals. They worked with the county to raise funds to build a shelter and were involved in its design. At one time they had an office within the shelter.
"Over the years," says CCAC volunteer Sara DeBerry, "we’ve focused more and more on rescue and finding homes for animals so they wouldn’t have to be euthanized. We established relationships with other rescues and groups, so we would have as many avenues as possible to place dogs and cats with permanent families."
Thousands of rescued pets later, CCAC is still evolving. On Oct. 10, they elected a new president after long-time president Kelly Evans decided it was "time for some new voices to step up within the organization." CCAC volunteer Emily Sadler is now president of the group and plans to continue their mission of finding "forever homes" for animals that get turned over to or picked up by animal control in the area. CCAC hopes to bring more awareness to the importance of spaying and neutering, as well.
CCAC is also planning to change its name. "People get confused now and think we’re the Catoosa shelter," says DeBerry. "And since we work in other areas, too, we want a more general name."
Reflecting on her years as president of CCAC, Kelly Evans says, "There was a lot of juggling. There is the PR aspect, watching money, trying to figure out how to fundraise to keep afloat, engaging the public, engaging members, maintaining good working relationships with the separate groups and powers that be, which tends to get sticky and political. Being the calming voice, someone to look at all sides of the coin, and try to be the peacemaker when frustrations, anger and passions run high.
"It’s 2017, and animal awareness is huge. But in our area, I feel that there is a serious need for education. The overpopulation of cats and dogs won't ever change unless people make it a priority to change. The human population has got to learn to be proactive and spay/neuter their pets. There are too many unwanted pets and when people are overwhelmed, pets end up in a box at Walmart for free or left running loose, or turned in to whatever shelter is in their area.
"I came into the group trying to help fundraise, never expecting to end up with a leading role. It’s been a challenging but good experience. I hope that local citizens and government will step up their dedication to solving the problem of abandoned animals by working together to increase spay-neuter programs and find loving families for the animals that do end up homeless. In the meantime, CCAC will continue to work hard to save the lives of homeless animals and find families for them."
For more information about low-cost spay or neuter, about adopting a cat or dog, to volunteer, or to donate, contact CCAC at 706-937-2287 or catoosacitizensforanimalcare.org. CCAC is also on Facebook at facebook.com/CatoosaCitizensForAnimalCare.