Local shelter striving to become a no-kill

WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Walking into an animal shelter can be tough.

Wondering who is going to find a forever home and who will be stuck there for countless days is heartbreaking.

But now, Walton County Animal Control is working hard to shed the kill-shelter stigma.

"A lot of people do not know we have a Walton County Animal Shelter here in Walton County. They don't realize we're here," said Animal Service Manager Tina Barker.

From cats to dogs, to horses and donkeys, the Walton County Animal Control keeps open arms for all.

"We have to take every animal that's brought to us if you're a resident of Walton County. We cannot turn away any animals. So we can fill up pretty quick," said Barker.

But because of this policy, it makes it tough to prevent overcrowding.

Whether lost, taken away or released by owner, many of these animals could spend months in these kennels.

"The animals that can't speak or don't have tags and we cannot locate their owners," said Barker. "We do our best on our website and social media pages to say hey check with us we may have your animals, but a lot of the owners don't come to reclaim them and that is a big problem that we have."

Each month the WCAS takes in roughly 215 animals off the streets.

"From January 1st to March 31st, we took in over 650 animals, owner turn-ins, return to owners, adoptions, rescues, we were only able to get a rough estimate of 388 out," Barker pointed out.

One, in particular, named Puppy, has been at the shelter for more than 120 days. He is the shelter's longest resident.

"Unfortunately our toughest animals are cute, little black puppy dogs. For some reason, black dogs are not as highly adaptable as the other different color animals and it's really a shame because this fella is just precious," explained Barker.

And although he still doesn't have his forever home, Puppy has found a home in the hearts of the volunteers and workers.

"Our biggest concern is saving lives, that's what we do. That's why we are trying to become a no-kill shelter, that's why we are trying extra hard to make sure these animals are either fostered or to get them out of the shelter or adopted," said Walton County Sheriff's Public Information Officer Lindsey Batchelor.

Batchelor said although they are striving to become a no-kill shelter, it will be a lengthy process and they won't be able to do it without the help of the community.

She also said the more the word gets out about the animals they house, the more likely it will be they can be placed with the right home.

The Walton County Animal Shelter is located off of Triple G Road in Defuniak Springs, next to the Walton County Sheriff's office and jail.