Fayette County News

Fayette County


Group forms to strengthen bonds supporting animals

The board of the newly-formed Friends of Fayette County Animal Shelter (L to R) Jon Hall (Vice President), Victoria Hopkins (President), and Samantha Beadle (Treasurer) with Rani Rathburn, Director of Fayette County Animal Shelter. The group will help raise much-needed funds for the shelter.

Fayette County is full of animal lovers. So many homes have pets, whether it’s a dog or a cat or even a bird or a rat. Loving families treat them like a part of the family, giving them everything they need to live happy and healthy lives.
At the same time, most people don’t give a thought to the stray and abandoned animals around the county. Much of the burden falls on the Fayette County Animal Shelter, but a new group has been formed to help lighten their load: the Friends of Fayette County Animal Shelter. Friends of Fayette County Animal Shelter (FFCAS) will be instrumental in helping bring in the additional funds needed to make the shelter all it can be.
“Being funded by tax dollars, we need alternate methods to get what we want. (As part of) county government, I can’t solicit funds, but my ‘Friends’ can for me,” says Rani Rathburn, director of the Fayette County Animal Shelter. “By fundraising and hosting events, we draw in citizens that want to help, feel good about getting involved, and can see tangible improvements because, of course, another goal is community involvement and transparency.”
FFCAS has been in the works for a long time, something Rathburn has been pursuing since she become the director in 2015.
“All through the 20 years of volunteering and working in county shelters and for humane societies, I had seen the impact a non-profit, specifically attached to a group, could make,” says Rathburn, adding that it also helps change the image of the shelter itself. “The goal of the group is to specifically gather donations through fundraising to purchase items requested by the staff.”
What FFCAS brings in will benefit both animals and staff by improving working conditions for the staff and living conditions for the animals, along with the building itself. Rathburn says much will be done “to improve the environment down to the nuts and bolts of the building, making it a brighter, happier place.”
Rathburn especially wants to be able to help her staff, the ones who ensure the animals can be their best.
“The animals are everyone’s priority, but actually the staff is my main priority, and having the right equipment and a better environment they can be proud of improves morale,” says Rathburn, adding that the line of work suffers from compassion fatigue and psychological drain.
FFCAS is already off to a great start, whether it was a shoe collection drive or a matching donations campaign to get a professional grooming station for the shelter. Rathburn says those are the types of the things that the group can do with its non-profit status that the shelter would not be able to do.
It took time to get the group together, because it is a different way to help the animals. Because it is based in fundraising and not a rescue, it required more business and networking-minded volunteers. The perfect mix has been found to get the group started and get it started right.
“Last winter, after 10 months, we finally found the right people that were committed and had been volunteering at the shelter and understood the goals and are committed to it.”
Victoria Hopkins will serve as President for the FFCAS, Jon Hall as Vice President, and Samantha Beadle as Treasurer.
“It’s working best as a small group,” says Rathburn, noting that it’s taken about eight months to become official and a sponsor helped out by donating the money to hire a lawyer to properly file all the paperwork.
Anyone who wants to get involved can participate in their upcoming events, keep up to date on the shelter’s Facebook page, or visit www.theffcas.org.

By Christopher Dunn

Managing Editor Christopher Dunn has been with the Fayette County News since 2011, in addition to running Fayette Victory magazine. He is a graduate of Fayette County schools, as well as a graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism. Follow him on twitter @fayettesports.