COVID-19 restrictions and concerns about health and safety volunteers made 2020 a challenging year for the Humane Society of Wilkes (HSOW).

The Wilkes County Animal Shelter hit capacity several times due to owners surrendering household pets they could no longer afford to care for, plus the usual stray animals brought in.

Despite these obstacles and the inability to host adoption fairs, HSOW secured adoption of 133 dogs, 316 cats and 20 other animals. The organization has another six dogs and 13 cats taken from the shelter in foster care. That’s a total of 488 animals saved.

SNAP (Spay and Neutering Program) provided low cost spaying and neutering for 293 dogs and 552 cats in 2020, thus saving more cats and dogs from being brought to the shelter in the future. Due to the need for this program in Wilkes, the $10 cat spay/neuter opportunity will continue until March.

Vouchers can be purchased at the HSOW building at the Hidden Oaks Dog Park adjacent to Cub Creek Park in Wilkesboro from 9-11:30 a.m. the last Saturday of each month starting Feb. 27.

“HSOW depends heavily on community support, memberships and the amazing work of the volunteers who seem to give more and more each year,” said the spokesman.

Spearheaded by Tammera Porter and with the help of members and volunteers and donations from the community, Pawsibilities Thrift Store opened in Crossroads Plaza Wilkesboro in the summer of 2019.

The store was started to help fund a “no kill” animal shelter, run by HSOW. The pandemic forced the store’s closure most of last year. Store items were still listed on HSOW Facebook and other buy/sell pages and brought in money to keep the power and water on.

HSOW plans to have several outdoor fundraisers to help expand the hours at Pawsibilities.

HSOW board members were elected in November to serve until 2021. Current board members are Jefferson Hill, president; Ed Parsons, vice president; Stacey St. Edmunds, treasurer; Mary Elmore, secretary/ SNAP; and Laurie Frachey-Dargin, public relations/membership, fundraising and new shelter committees.

Also on the board are Mitzi Combs, membership; Katie Parsons, adoptions/fosters; Tammera Porter, Fundraising/Pawsibilities Thrift Store/new shelter committee; Robin Johnson, new shelter committee; Melissa Nunn, SNAP; Barbara Pendry, Kim Hatfield and co-founders Carol Childers and Steve Jackson, DVM.

A HSOW membership drive will start soon. Membership forms and corporate and business sponsorship forms are available at www. humanesocietyof wilkes.org, at the Wilkes County Public Library or at the HSOW office. They’re also available by emailing Laurie Dargin at hollycroft@charter.net or Mitzi Combs at bluebirdmc@gmail.com.

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