Andrew Kitchens

Andrew Kitchens is the new director of MOAS (Madison/Oglethorpe Animal Shelter), but he is not new to animal care.

In fact, he previously trained service dogs and has pets of his own. He told Rotarians that the mission of MOAS is to serve as many animals as possible and to help animal owners in this area. The shelter’s initiatives are many. Their low-cost animal care includes surgeries by two of the assisting veterinarians, low-cost vaccinations and neutering as well.

Their “Spay it Forward” Program is a free service for cats and the TNR program (Trap, vaccinate, Neuter and Return) makes sure that feral cats are taken care of. In addition to their Pet Food Pantry, the center serves the community through an outreach program working with children in schools to teach pet parenting and responsibility. Because the facility can house 125 animals but take in more, the foster program is important to their mission of keeping animals alive and in good health. A Barn Cat initiative rehomes feral cats to families with barns to keep critters in check, and they also have a Guardian Angel Fund that provides financial assistance for families with pets that need physical assistance such as wheelchairs and physical therapy.

With a partnership between Madison County and Oglethorpe County, governments funding provides 20 percent of expenses with Madison County $96,390 and Oglethorpe handling $43,563. The rest is up to the center to procure through fund raising. Their biggest fundraiser event has been the “Bark and Wine” event held at the winery each year; however, the pandemic kept that from happening this year, so donations became even more important. Not only monetary assistance, but donations of bleach, pet food, dog toys, and shredded paper help the shelter remain afloat. The yearly Santa Paws event, picture taking with Santa, was also canceled for the year.

The shelter takes in an average of over 3,000 animals each year and has had to euthanize only 11 percent this past year. In addition to adoption and fostering the animals, it transports animals to Connecticut, Massachusetts and Delaware where animals are not so plentiful. Families in these states who wish to adopt a pet apply to bring sheltered animals into their homes as part of their families. After carefully considering the applications, Kitchens and other staff, put kennels in their vehicles and drive them to their new homes in the northern states. If anyone wants to know more about MOAS, Kitchens’ number at the shelter is 706-795-2868, and his email address is director@moaspets.com. If the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” is true, then it certainly takes two counties and dedicated employees to shelter four-footed friends.

Ellen Cowne provides news from the Rotary Club of Madison County.

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