To go along with its new identity as an independent, no-kill shelter, the Humane Society also is changing its name and coverage area.
Starting Thursday, the Humane Society of Hall County will become the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia. The facility will serve Hall, Jackson, Banks, Lumpkin, Habersham, White, Rabun and Stephens counties.
Rick Aiken, president of the Humane Society of Hall County, said he hopes the change will send the message to residents of surrounding counties that the society’s spay-and-neuter program is open to everyone, no matter where they live.
"We get calls from all over, saying ‘Well, I live in Lumpkin County, can I use your spay/neuter program," said Aiken, adding that they also will partner with other Humane Societies across the state to use the clinic and help find homes for more animals.
"And it may be we’ve got a dog that’s been here for a long time, and we can trade with one of theirs."
The Humane Society had originally planned to part ways with Hall County Animal Control earlier this year, in an amicable split that would allow more room for animals at the Humane Society. Work on the new Hall County facility ran into delays over the summer, though, and while Aiken said the most recent plan was for Animal Control staff to move by Thursday, that may have to wait another week or so.
Part of the Humane Society’s new identity will be changing its mission to a "selective admissions" shelter, which means every animal taken in has to fit certain criteria to be adopted out again.
"If they bring an animal in, it’s got to be that we have room for it; we don’t have too many of that particular kind; and it is friendly and healthy," said Aiken. "If it doesn’t meet those areas, then we can’t take it in because it (would be) taking the space of one that’s healthy and adoptable."
This also allows the shelter to focus on matching people with the perfect pet, he added. Future plans call for bringing in an obedience trainer to help new owners work out issues with their pets instead of returning them to the shelter.
"It’s hard for people to believe, but there’s something about that dog or cat that made you pick it," Aiken said. "Three’s a bond there, so we can work some things out."
The Humane Society is planning a "Life Saver" launch party on Oct. 24 to introduce the community to its new mission. The facility is at 845 Ridge Road in Gainesville.
"We’re going to have entertainment, food, tours, so that people (have) an opportunity to ask questions and really know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it," Aiken said.