As I look back on the past year, my first as CEO for the Greater Huntsville Humane Society, I am filled with mixed emotions. When I accepted the role as CEO in June 2019, I never could have prepared myself for the unprecedented year ahead. We experienced joyful highs as we saved a historically high number of pets, completed more transport missions than ever before, expanded our reach to include 6 north Alabama counties, and received an incredibly generous amount of money from the late Mr. Thomas Reickhoff–allowing us to plan for many exciting changes and expansions. One of these included opening our NEW store: Three Tails Resale.
Along with the highs came some devastating lows. We lost two of our beloved volunteers, Ms. Glenna and Ms. Gayle, who both dedicated so much time and energy to our organization. We had to turn our standard operating procedures upside down in response to the global health crisis brought on by COVID19 to ensure the health and safety of our staff, volunteers, animals, and community. We were tasked with the challenge of continuing to further our mission, continuing to save lives no matter what, while we could not hold events, could not be open to the public, and had multiple fundraisers and events canceled. During this time, we saw a dramatic increase in owner surrender requests. We saw more families than ever enrolling in our community assistance programs like King’s Community Kitchen and the Pet Wellness Clinics (with Rocket City Mobile Vet). We, unfortunately, saw all of this while also seeing a decrease in donations.
Through the highs and the lows, I know one thing for sure: GHHS never quit. Our dedicated staff, volunteers, and Board of Directors adjusted to the new normal. We were never satisfied by finding the reasons we could not do something; rather, we found ways we could. Instead of closing our King’s Community Kitchen pet food bank, we adapted it into a drive-through so that pet owners affected by the pandemic didn’t have to make the heartbreaking choice between feeding their pets and feeding their children.
Instead of limiting the number of animals we took in, we took in more animals than ever before! We completed virtual adoptions, put out a plea for foster homes which allowed us to clear the shelter TWICE, and transported animals to Erie, Pennsylvania; Hagerstown, Maryland; Ft. Dodge, Iowa; Phillipsburg, New Jersey; and Washington, Pennsylvania. Instead of stopping, we persevered. 2020 will go down in history as a year that was challenging, hard, and, yes, “unprecedented” but it will also remain the year that we stuck together, we grew, and we adapted.
As we say goodbye to 2020, and look forward to 2021, it is my hope that this calendar is filled with joyous events–whether virtual or in-person. I want to thank you for purchasing this calendar and to all those who participated in our annual photo contest! Your support is what keeps us afloat and, like many, we need support now more than ever.