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Founder’s Message

Why Harnett Animal Welfare Coalition (HAWC) now?  As a person who cares about animals and a resident of Harnett County, I tried to ignore the things I heard about my county’s shelter – none of which were favorable. But when I visited the shelter and met the staff, I was pleasantly surprised.  I’ve seen the kennels, and while they may not compare to a home environment, they are clean and well kept and the animals housed at the shelter are provided with basic necessities. I’ve had positive experiences with shelter staff and have found them to be caring and competent professionals. And I’ve seen the euthanasia statistics for Harnett County. The rate for our shelter over the past several years (59% in 2010) is actually lower than most of the surrounding counties and is lower than the state average. By these standards, Harnett County shelter is not the ‘high-kill’ facility it is rumored to be.

Yes, you read that correctly.  The euthanasia rate of our county’s animals, around 60% over the last several years, is LESS than the state average and LESS than most of the surrounding counties.  WOW.  Even large counties with huge, beautiful shelters and counties that have separate private shelters to handle the overflow have higher than expected euthanasia rates.  Still, it is tragic that thousands of unwanted pets die in our local shelter every year.  We can’t blame our shelter and the staff – they’re not the ones that created the animal overpopulation, they’re just the ones that have to deal with it.  As our region grows, the animal overpopulation will only worsen.  It’s time to change that.

We need a paradigm shift –a change that can only happen in the community, with the support of Harnett County citizens like you, and through positive relationships between our community and our county agencies/leaders.  This is the driving force behind HAWC, and we are committed to facilitating that change.  We are currently working with our county agencies and county leaders to implement solutions that will responsibly decrease the number of unwanted animals surrendered to our shelter, improve ordinances protecting our companion animals, and to promote a positive image of our shelter within our community.  We are working within the community to increase the awareness of shelter pets and improve the image of our shelter and its animals through programs like Bandana Buddies, Creature Comforts and Pet of the Week.  We are working to decrease the number of unwanted animals through programs like SANTA (Spay And Neuter Transportation & Assistance), humane education and by providing resources to pet owners during hardship.

We can address our animal overpopulation problem with improved adoptions, setting standards of safety and responsibility for animal rescue organizations, spay/neuter and education/outreach programs, and building a positive relationship between the shelter and the community – not by creating a divide.  Our shelter should be the place of choice in our county for people to go to adopt a pet, where they will feel welcomed and encouraged, and not have to face the despair they’ve been warned about about.  This kind of change can only be accomplished by building respect and trust between the community and our county agencies – and by making friends instead of enemies.  Let’s get it together to accomplish our goal!

Together we can make a difference in the lives of our animals and our citizens.  We can see the day when Harnett County is a model county for responsible pet ownership; where all companion animals have permanent homes and the cycle of unwanted pets has come to an end.  HAWC is a coalition – of residents, county agencies, county leaders, animal advocates, animal rescue groups, schools, churches, kids, seniors, businesses, and everyone else in our community who wants to improve the quality of life for both humans and animals in Harnett County.  If you’re interested in a proactive, positive community partnership to solve our unwanted and neglected animal population, then HAWC is for you and we’d love to have you!