SEASON OF GIVING: Humane Society offering help keeping pets with families, healthy

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Hundreds of animals get a new chance at life every year, thanks to the efforts of the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County.

They do more than rescue and find new homes for dogs and cats.

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Now they work to help owners keep their pets and keep them healthy.

FOX13′s Valerie Calhoun has more on what the immense effort entails and how you can help.

Barbie Clayton said walking and playing with Taco is like a “good therapy session.”

“This is Taco, he’s a sweet boy full of energy,” Clayton said.

She is one of about 300 volunteers who help keep the dogs and cats happy and healthy at the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County.

“They give tirelessly of their time, they come in the mornings, I come in the evenings, they come in the rain, in the snow to make sure our dogs are getting that little extra touch,” said Ellen Zahariadis, executive director. “Extra time in the play yard, that long walk and Shelby Farms Park.”

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There are 100 dogs and cats here at any given time. But, that’s only the beginning.

Volunteers “foster” puppies, kittens and ill animals at homes.

There is an in-house veterinarian and staff to perform surgeries and care for animals.

We saw a volunteer lay halfway in a cage to comfort a dog recovering from surgery.

There is so much heart.

Caring for injured, abused and neglected animals in a no-kill environment and finding new homes for them is the mission.


But the pandemic revealed a need for the shelter to do even more. It now offers low-cost pet care, summer camps, training for pets.

“In 2020, when the pandemic happened, we were seeing people come to us who needed care for their animals they had either lost her job or her Social Security or had food stamps and couldn’t provide those certain things for their pet but they’re a good pet owner,” Zahariadis said.

There are 35 paid staffers but the cost to maintain this Herculean effort would cost even more if not for that army of volunteers, like Clayton.

“Honestly, I feel guilty when I cannot come because I think ‘oh my gosh who’s going to be able to take the dog out,’” she said.

One of the things that we were most impressed by is there are so many moving pieces.

There is a dog walking tracking board.

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All the volunteers write down the dogs’ name and when they were walked. They each get walked about three times a day.

“The budget is over $2 million a year just to keep operation, just to keep the operation going we are funded entirely on donations,” Zahariadis said.

That’s where you come in. You can donate money or your time and talents.


“It helps the community, honestly, it helps me,” Clayton said. “It’s like a good little therapy session for me every week.”

The low-cost clinic provides spay and neuter services, vaccinations and routine care for low-income pet owners.

Again, they also offer dog training to those who adopt pets. It’s a full-service operation.

TO DONATE: FOX13′s SEASON OF GIVING: Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County