TPD partnership’s with Ginger’s Fund gives abused animals a chance
Thomasville Police Department's animal control officers are faced with a difficult decision when responding to a report of cruelty and neglect.
Officers can charge the owners with animal cruelty and remove the animal from the home, but it's what happens next that is the real tragedy. Rescued animals of neglect are taken to the Davidson County Animal Shelter and often are euthanized due to the agency's limited resources.
A new partnership is giving these animals another chance.
TPD is teaming up with Ginger's Fund, a program created to help animal control officers in law enforcement handle cases of animal cruelty. Ginger's Fund handles the medical care of neglected animals, provides a full medical report to law enforcement to help prosecute individuals charged with animal cruelty and adopts the animals out once they have recovered.
“[Animal cruelty] a terrible thing and it's going on everywhere,” said Donna Grooms, president of Ginger's Fund.. “It's not just Thomasville or Lexington. For animal control officers, it's pretty sad when you have to go and remove an animal from a terrible situation and charge the owners with cruelty and neglect and the only option you have is taking the animal to be euthanized.”
Animal Control Officer Candi Lewis found Ginger's Fund after responding to a animal cruelty case on Nov. 13. She arrived at the home and found three dogs – Hope, Amber and Louis – suffering from neglect. Hope was severely malnourished and Lewis knew her chances of survival were slim.
“She was dying, and with the shelter's limited resources, if I had taken her there, ultimately she would've been euthanized,” Lewis said. “I contacted Lexington Police Department and they put me in contact with the Ginger's Fund. You can't take an animal out of any cruel environment just to have it go to the shelter because the shelter doesn't have a vet on staff or the resources to apply a lot of medical treatments. I felt there was no justice for the animal if we were doing that.”
All three dogs were treated at Davidson County Animal Hospital and now are recovering with their newly adopted families. Lewis charged both owners with felony animal cruelty.
“Before we heard about Ginger's Fund we had no resources,” Lewis said.
In the past three months, TPD has responded to four more cases of animal cruelty involving eight dogs, including Little Jack, a puppy found tied to a tree in a city park, and Lady, a canine who lost its paw after it got stuck in a foot trap.
Ginger's Fund has stepped in every time.
“Ginger's Fund takes over and handles all the medical care,” said Lewis. “A majority of them require extensive medical care, and we're able to obtain a warrant to seize the animal. They take them to the vet and the vet gives a full medical report to help us in court when we charge the individual. We never had that option before. It has really broadened our horizons as far as holding people accountable for their actions.”
Ginger's Fund was established in 2011 by Friends of the Shelter Davidson County, a nonprofit. In addition to Ginger's Fund, the nonprofit supports the Davidson County Animal Shelter with adoptions, increasing awareness on the importance of spay and neutering and reducing the number of euthanizations. Ginger's Fund is named after a rottweiler named Ginger, who was found starving by Lexington police on Dec. 31, 2011. Ginger spent three months in recovery and now is living happily in her foster home.
“That's where it started,” Grooms said. “We're not a rescue. We're here to provide support to animal control and law enforcement, and that was something we did not see that anyone was doing.”
Ginger's Fund has helped more than 100 neglected animals and relies solely on public donations.
“We do what's best for the animals and the public generously supports Ginger's Fund and what we do,” said Grooms. “I believe it's because we're supporting animal control with their cruelty cases.
Lewis and Grooms agree that there is no excuse for pet owners to neglect or abuse their animals. If a pet owner is struggling financially, Lewis said there are agencies like the Humane Society of Davidson County that are available to help.
“There are resources out there,” Lewis said. “ I try to put people in contact with resources to help their animal. Bringing the animal to the shelter to me is a last resort. In the case of Hope, taking her to the shelter would've been better than leaving her there to die. There are lots of vets who will work with people, they understand people are in tight financial shape.”
For more information, visit friendsoftheshelterdcnc.com or Ginger's Fund on Facebook.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.