Kelly Batcho from Kelly & Company Antiques (left) sponsored the first free adoption event with Fayette County Animal Control and their director, Rani Rathburn (right). The event was such a success that another local businessman has sponsored a new one. (Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)

The loving hearts at Fayette County Animal Control and local business owners are teaming up to help their furry friends find forever homes for the holidays. With some great generosity, free adoption events have helped connect a number of local families with new pets. Pioneered by Kelly & Company Antiques, the initiative is helping make the decision to adopt that much easier.

It all started when Kelly Batcho from Kelly & Company was bringing in food donations for Animal Control’s county animal shelter, and she spoke with the director, Rani Rathburn. Kelly wanted to host a food drive at her business’s open house to chip in. Rathburn brought dogs to the open house and struck up a conversation with Kelly’s husband, Mark, while there. He asked how much adoptions cost, and then he said they would cover them.

“The free adoptions were only supposed to be for a week or so, but it had such a great outcome that he said to do an encore, so we did it for another week,” said Rathburn. “We got a lot of calls and had a big rush of people come in. It was a good turnout.”

For Kelly, it was a perfect partnership.

“We wanted to choose a charity to support through the Christmas season. My husband and I have a real love for animals, and we have three rescues of our own,” said Kelly. “We thought what a great fit to choose the Fayette County Animal Shelter, and we just sort of ran with it.”

The event went even better than they had hoped.

“We were just so excited to see the response and how much that really encouraged people to take a leap of faith and adopt. It was awesome,” said Kelly. “We’re already making plans for next year and how we can make it bigger and better.”

Kelly & Company Antiques, located at 1850 Highway 85 S in Fayetteville, brings together a number of vendors specializing in vintage finds of all kinds and other timeless treasures. You can find them online at and on Facebook.

The generosity from Kelly & Company Antiques has already sparked the interest of several other local businesses. Right now, Stephan Curcio of Keller Williams Realty is sponsoring an event covering adoption fees until February 1.

To keep up with the Fayette County Animal Shelter, be sure to follow them on Facebook. It has become a great tool to stay in touch with the public and to introduce animals looking for a family.

For those who already have a home full of pets but still want to help out, the shelter is always in need of volunteers. With just four full-time employees and one part-time, there is so much to do to make sure the animals get the love and care they deserve. Volunteers can come in anytime to be dog walkers or hang out in the cat room where the kitties play. Of course, the shelter could always use a hand with cleaning or with donations of supplies. They can never have enough cat litter, moist food, or cleaning supplies.

Many people might confuse the animal shelter with the Humane Society. While they benefit each other, they are separate entities. Animal Control’s first task is public safety, meaning they pick up and house all stray animals that are causing a nuisance. They hold them for six days in case the owner realizes their pet is missing and comes to claim them. If that does not happen, they place the animal up for adoption. The Humane Society is a group of non-profit volunteers that hold the animals in foster homes and takes them to Petsmart on the weekends to be seen for adoption. The two groups work together at times, like with the Trap-Neuter-Release initiative that helps to slow the growth of the stray cat population. TNR is a Humane Society program, but Animal Control gives them referrals to point them in the right direction.

“It’s been tremendous,” Rathburn says of the program. “There are so many stray cats. If we can get them spayed or neutered so they’re not creating more, then that cuts down on the problem.”

Fayette County Animal Control does a tremendous job taking care of their boarders. Just this month, they have seen one dog appear in a movie with Jennifer Anniston and another enter training with the USDA to help track endangered species. For their furry brothers and sisters still at the shelter, Animal Control has something even more special in mind: finding them forever homes.