In July, Tammy Godusi volunteered at the Johnston County Pet Adoption Center in Smithfield. A frequent volunteer with animals at the Wake County SPCA, Godusi and others from Johnston County wanted to help close to home.
But she was astonished to find the animals poorly cared for and many chronically ill. Dogs weren’t being walked. They were only watered twice each day. There were several caged dogs in small rooms.
“From what we were told, it was a staffing issue,” Godusi said.
It was clear volunteers were needed to help.
But for the past several months, volunteers have been kept out of the facility.
“They shut the door in our face,” Godusi said.
They were told the facility was being renovated and couldn’t allow the volunteers in. One month became two and two became three. Godusi and other volunteers became very upset, knowing the animals at the center wouldn’t get the care they needed.
The volunteers went to the Johnston County Manager’s office for help and got the community involved. Godusi went before the County Commissioners in early November and had more than 500 names on a petition to open the center to helpers.
Finally, nearly six months later, volunteers are welcome in the center once again. The volunteer program was reinstated last week.
“We worked very hard to get this,” she said. “It takes a community for this to be successful.”
The challenges aren’t over yet. Godusi said nearly 50 percent of the dogs at the center are euthanized in a gas chamber because there’s not enough room for the animals. Johnston County also has a major overpopulation of cats.
Johnston County is one of less than 15 counties in the state still using the gas chamber instead of lethal injection.
“It just can’t be tolerated,” Godusi said.
Lethal injection isn’t much more expensive than the use of the gas chamber and many feel it is a more humane way of euthanizing an animal.
The county said a license had been applied for three years ago to use lethal injection, which the volunteers found was unfounded. The county came back and changed its story, saying it was an oversight.
“We don’t care at this point,” Godusi said. “We just want it to stop.”
On top of the euthanization issues, the center hasn’t had an aggressive adoption promotion. The center uses petfinder.com; however, there’s little else done to promote the animals.
Adoption times are Monday through Friday from 1 to 4:30 p.m., when most people are working.
And, Godusi said, many people don’t even know the center exists. She hopes the rebirth of the volunteer program will bring awareness and plenty of forever homes for animals in need.
Anyone wanting to volunteer can obtain an application at the Johnston County Pet Adoption Center or by contacting Tammy Godusi at firstname.lastname@example.org. The center is located at 115 Shelter Way in Smithfield.
Volunteer opportunities include dog walkers, cuddlers, bathers, cat socializers and front desk helpers.
“Everything is geared toward getting (the animals) adoptable,” Godusi said.
Contact Kelly Griffith at email@example.com or 919-552-5675.