For years, Lana Bellew has made it her mission to help local animals.
Bellew has been involved in animal rescue with a group of like-minded volunteers for about seven years. She has no formal training, but is very passionate about the job.
Over the years, Bellew has helped foster homeless animals, paid for medical treatment for animals in need and even once paid to have a dog kept for nine weeks in a veterinary practice, taking him out daily before leaving. bringing him indoors at night to allow him to socialize and exercise.
“When there’s a dog on the side of the road and no one knows what to do with it, or it’s running in the middle of the highway, or someone finds one in their home, they don’t know who call,” she explained. “I get tags on Facebook or calls (about animals needing help), and I guess the community just knows who these people are volunteering for the rescue.
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“We have saved so many animals over the past seven years,” she continued. “There are people who have done so much more than me. We are just a community of rescuers who care about loving animals.”
Bellew said she and her fellow rescuers work with a number of nonprofit organizations that help animals, including Huckaby’s Hope, Fagin Animal Rescue, Etowah County Humane Society, Second Chance Shelter, Two By Two Animal Rescue and the Rainbow City Animal Shelter.
As her work progressed, Bellew began to realize that there were two big problems in Etowah County: the need for a more central location in the county for people to bring animals not desired and the reduction of overcrowding.
“I started thinking, ‘Where’s the animal control?'” she said. “So I had to get involved to find out. It was very discouraging for me because there’s really no one to call on weekends or at night. And all the facilities are so full.
“It kills our hearts,” she continued. “We can’t keep up. So many animals are losing their lives.”
Recently, Bellew and a few other rescuers met with Etowah County Commissioners Johnny Grant and Tim Ramsey to look for a way to achieve their goals.
Bellew said the two were very receptive to the ideas she and her fellow volunteers came up with.
“It was a very friendly encounter,” she said. “They were open-minded and let us talk and listen. These commissioners listen to us and I appreciate that someone took the time.”
According to Bellew, only one option isn’t just a band-aid in the matter.
“We have to get to the root of the problem – we have to neuter and neuter,” she stressed.
Bellew came up with a plan which she explained at the meeting.
“‘Can we at least try to spay and neuter 100 to 150 dogs with a Snip-It ticket?'” she said, she asked Grant and Ramsey. “What that means is if you have a dog and you can’t afford to have it neutered or you’re not going to and you keep it outside, to prevent it to multiply, the county commission may pay part of the (sterilization and sterilization) fee.
“We have been instructed to try to partner with a non-profit organization, people who can come and do the sterilization at a reduced rate, and they (the county commission) will try to find some discretionary funding to help with get the dogs spayed or neutered,” she added.
Bellew thinks one of the main reasons the animals end up in these situations is the location of the Etowah County Animal Shelter, which is on the outskirts of the county and has an address in Piedmont, as well as many others in western Etowah County having a vet no closer than Oneonta.
“If someone in Altoona finds a dog, they won’t bring it to the Etoona County facility — if you’re not an animal lover, especially,” she said. “Look at gas prices. The logistics don’t make sense.”
But Bellew thinks she might have an idea to help her.
“We said, ‘We need you all to consider having a midpoint,'” she said. “We’re not asking for additional funds. We’re asking that the funds that have been set aside be redistributed to where they can contract with a temporary place somewhere in the middle (of the county) where they can keep the animals (who don’t have nowhere to go).”
Bellew pointed out that workers at the Etowah County Animal Shelter are not at fault, pointing out that an understaffing means too few people already have too much to do there, let alone go out all over the place. community to get rid of stray animals.
When everything comes together and gets organized, Bellew said she and her fellow advocates will post volunteer announcements in each local community for anyone interested in helping.
“But right now we’re just trying to raise awareness,” she said.