Forsyth Humane Society’s executive director talks about the organization’s goals

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Walk in the Forsyth Humane Society’s Adoption and Resource Center on Country Club Road in Winston-Salem, and it won’t take long for you to realize it’s one happy place.

With an annual budget of $1.3 million (all of which comes from donations and grants) and nearly 30 full and part-time employees, this is the place that has been, is and will be the last stop before adoption or transfer to rescue groups for more than 2,000 dogs and cats in 2017.

“I think people (in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County) love their animals deeply,” Executive Director Sarah Williamson told me recently. “It is a community of people who walk the walk.”

The Humane Society’s shelter is “no-kill.” All of the animals are adopted, sent to rescues or end up in foster care until they can be adopted.

Occasionally the animals will be adopted by shelter employees or volunteers.

“We have about 500 volunteers,” Williamson said. “We staff over 60 hours every day in volunteer time.”

That support staff is among the reasons the Humane Society is about to get much larger. It’s set to “join forces” with the place where it gets all its animals: The Forsyth County Animal Shelter.

Plans call for Forsyth County to pay the Humane Society as much as $500,000 a year to provide services it currently pays employees to do: services like coordination adoptions and transfers to rescues.

“They (the county) will maintain their staff of animal control officers. They’re still responsible for ordinance enforcement, public safety, licensing and picking up stray dogs and managing bite quarantines,” Williamson said.

The county will also continue to handle something else: euthanization.

“Every animal will be assessed by a team of three humane society staff to determine if that animal is adoptable of could be treated medically or behaviorally to become adoptable,” Williamson said. “And if that animal is not deemed adoptable, the animal will be identified for euthanasia.”

But the main goal is to cut the county’s euthanasia rate from 64% to 10% by 2023. The Humane Society plans to do that by following strategies it already has in place: aggressively getting the word out about the animals available for adoption, continued partnerships with rescues and foster families and encouraging people who want or need to give up their animals to find new homes for those animals, themselves.

“If the community can embrace the idea that every animal who is there is being well taken care of and every adoptable animal will find a home, then we will be in a good place.”

For more information on the Forsyth Humane Society and to see some of the animals available for adoption, check out the website: