In 2001 four animal lovers came together to pool their rescue efforts and CARA (Community Animal Rescue & Adoption, Inc.) was formed. In the 15 years since its birth CARA has grown from a backyard operation to become Mississippi’s largest no-kill animal rescue organization. Operated by volunteers, volunteer board members, and part-time shelter employees, CARA works to place adoptable pets into loving homes and to reduce overpopulation of stray and unwanted animals by supporting spay/neuter programs, ensuring that all animals in their care are spayed or neutered prior to adoption, and by educating the public on responsible pet ownership.
Since its inception, CARA has placed over 8000 animals into loving homes. Currently they care for 430 cats and dogs. – about 30% above capacity – which creates a constant financial struggle. The shelter does not receive any funding from the city, county, state or federal government, they operate exclusively through the generosity of the community by private donations from individuals, businesses, and fund-raising events.
Part of the struggle is the balance of adoptions versus intakes. Typically CARA receives about a dozen calls a day regarding stray or abandoned animals, that number far outweighs the amount of calls from people looking to adopt. The harsh reality is there exists a finite physical space to house an infinite stream of homeless animals needing help. It can feel like an overwhelming battle, but they remain steadfast in their dedication and never give up. CARA works hard to keep their ever revolving door moving. As soon an animal in their care finds a home that space is filled with another in need.
It costs around $42,000 per month – $1400 dollars per day – to run the shelter. That cost includes 7-8 thousand dollars in vet bills alone. Just to feed the dogs it takes 300 lbs of dog food per day. In order to keep the shelter in operation the budget must be responsibly managed. Taking care of the animals is hard work, but the shelter can only afford to pay staff minimum wage at 32 hours or less per week. And yet there are staff who continue working – unpaid, off the clock – well beyond their 32 hours each week simply because of their steadfast love and dedicated for the animals in their care.
How Can You Help?
There are a number of ways to help CARA, you can make a donation, volunteer your time, become a foster carer, hold a food drive, help fund raise, or donate items from their wish list. Right now, heading into the summer months the shelter is in need of industrial fans to help manage the oppressive heat. Using air conditioning is not feasible or realistic, even if they had the funding, given they occupy a 30 thousand square foot metal building, surrounded by dog yards with dogs and people coming in and out all day – so using the fans to mitigate the Mississippi summer heat is vital.
And of course, there are hundreds of animals waiting to find their new home. CARA works to meet the needs of both the animals and potential adopters by helping people determine what pet is the right fit for their household. Why not visit the shelter today and let them introduce you to your new best friend? When you adopt a shelter pet you help save 2 lives: the one you bring home and the one who takes its place.
By Miranda Jordan
Taken from Magnolia State of Mind 2016 edition. The official magazine of the Mississippi Craft Show. www.magnoliastateofmind.com
C.A.R.A | Jackson
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