published Monday, July 8th, 2013

Humane Educational Society shelter helper nets pint-sized pooches

Cocoa, a 2-year-old Border Collie mix, looks up out of her kennel at the Humane Educational Society on Sunday.
Cocoa, a 2-year-old Border Collie mix, looks up out of her kennel at the Humane Educational Society on Sunday.
Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
  • photo
    Kittens look out of their cage at the Humane Educational Society on Sunday.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
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When Vanessa Thompson walked into the Humane Educational Society shelter on Sunday, she didn't expect she'd be going home with two of the canine residents.

"I just came to help walk some dogs," she said.

But sure enough, a few hours later, Thompson was happily filling out the paperwork to take home chihuahuas Buffy and Monkey.

"I own chihuahua mixes, and I know they're kind of scared so I want to make them feel better," Thompson said.

Buffy and Monkey arrived at the shelter on Friday after their owner surrendered them. According to shelter records, the owner simply had too many pets.

"They should fit right in with me then," said Thompson, who has 7 doggie roommates at her East Ridge home.

Thompson, who has been volunteering at the shelter since February, will be fostering the two pint-sized pooches until someone adopts them.

Sundays at the Shelter, an event hosted at the North Highland Park shelter on the first Sunday of every month, is a way to get people from the community to interact with the shelter's many animals.

"We have so many great family dogs and cats, and we'd just like to invite people to come down and spend some time with the animals," said Jeanine Cloyd, volunteer manager at the shelter.

Cloyd said it's also a great time for the animals to get some extra attention from volunteers and visitors alike.

"That's our goal -- every cat loved, every dog walked," she said.

Though the shelter is open six days a week, Cloyd said, the Sunday events are a great time for potential adopters to take their time finding the right furry friends to take home with them.

Cloyd said the adoption process can be overwhelming -- there are now about 90 dogs and 60 cats available for adoption -- but on Sundays, the shelter has enough volunteers present to give people personal tours. And the volunteers spend enough time with the dogs to know their individual personalities.

"They can tell you, 'well, this dog would be a great couch-potato dog' or 'this one would be a great running-partner,'" Cloyd said.

She said the turnout Sunday wasn't what she'd hoped, but that the weekend's rainy weather probably played a part.

Only two families showed up to take a look at the shelter's facilities. Long rows of dog kennels stretch down one side of the building. Grassy yards for puppy play dot the property. Cats lounge in elaborate play rooms, designed by local artists and filled with huge palm-tree scratching posts and snuggly places for napping.

Cloyd said the families had looked at several of the shelter's animals, but decided to think about how the new pets would fit into their lives before making a decision to adopt.

"They're thinking about it," she said. "Better to do that than be impulsive."

Contact staff writer Lindsay Burkholder at 423-757-6592 or

about Lindsay Burkholder...

Lindsay Burkholder is originally from Winston-Salem, N.C. She graduated from Covenant College in May 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. While at Covenant she spent time writing for and editing the news section of the school newspaper, The Bagpipe. Burkholder also attended the World Journalism Institute in New York City in 2011.

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