Waynesboro, Ga. (WJBF)- Burke County has no animal control, so Old Fella Animal Rescue sends stray dogs and cats more than a thousand miles up the east coast to have a better shot at finding a forever home.
With no one to take care of all the stray cats and dogs in the county, it’s fallen on the shoulders of a small group of dedicated volunteers.
“We don’t have a humane society. We don’t have animal control. But we have the Old Fella Animal Rescue,” said Old Fella board member Barry McFeat.
Without a shelter for the county, Old Fella sends loads of strays up to a no-kill shelter in Salem, Mass., Northeastern Animal Shelter, to make sure they get the homes they deserve.
“They all get good homes,” McFeat said.
Today they sent up 39 dogs and eight cats in their fifth load of the year.
Over the past nine years, Old Fella has sent out more 2,000 dogs because volunteers say it’s easier for them to find homes elsewhere.
“They have strict spay-neuter laws, and therefore puppies aren’t so numerous as they are here in Burke County,” McFeat said.
And since February, they’ve been sending cats as well.
“That’s 24 cats– their lives have been saved,” said volunteer Margie Riggs.
Old Fella spends around $80,000 a year footing vet bills for the animals that come into their care. All of the money comes from donations and grants.
“There’s a lot of vetting,” Riggs said. “It averages probably about $100 per dog to get them on the transport and get them healthy enough, depending on if they heartworms or they have the mange or etcetera,” Riggs said.
Because Burke County has no ordinances requiring pets to be spayed or neutered, they also work to get the animals fixed.
“So spay and neuter is the key to all of this,” she said. “The laws need to be changed.”
But thanks to the tireless work of volunteers like Riggs, who organized today’s transport, animals who may have been abandoned or found wandering the streets have a chance at a loving home.
“And we might not save them all but these are some that will have a chance. And these animals get great homes,” she said. “I get a lot of feedback from Northeastern, from the people that adopt. And these animals, they get to go to doggie daycare school, they go camping, they go to the lake.”
Old Fella Animal Rescue says that they’ve been forced to suspend their spay/neuter program due to lack of funds. You can donate here.