Posted by Wes Brooks on Mar 25, 2019
President Steven Utroska presided over today’s meeting. Michaela Harper gave today’s invocation. Joe Meador led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Thanks to Mark Killingsworth who served as our greeter today.
Mike McPhail filled in for Brandon Hodges and thanked those who helped with today’s meeting and introduced our guests. Dean Cromartie is a guest of Mary Cromartie. Tom Smith is a guest of Mike Ratliff, and Mark Gillentine is a guest of Elizabeth Gillentine and Matthew Regal is a guest of Bill McLeod.
Steven noted that Meals on Wheels volunteers are needed for the next three months. Three new members volunteered to ride with veteran drivers. Thanks to those who stepped up. He also reminded board members of today’s board meeting immediately following this meeting.
Mary Cromartie then introduced today’s guest speaker, Ginny Sims. Ginny is the Executive Director for the Southern Pines Animal Shelter in Hattiesburg.
Ginny reports that Southern Pines is an Open Admission Shelter, meaning it accepts animals from the entire state. More than 8,000 animals were accepted last year just from the Hattiesburg and Forrest County areas. In addition to the shelter, Southern Pines also operates the Spay and Neuter Clinic and the Second Chance Thrift Shop. The Spay and Neuter Clinic has performed 55,000 spay or neuter surgeries preventing an estimated 55 million kittens and puppies from being born. Recently the Clinic added wellness services at a reduced cost. The Second Chance Thrift Shop has generated $1.3 million in sales, all of the proceeds have been used to support the Southern Pines operations. There are now 50 staff members employed at the Shelter, the Clinic and the Thrift Shop.
In 2010 Ginny says they looked at their operation and discovered that 80% of all admissions were being euthanized. She and the staff made the decision to change the way they operated, becoming more community oriented and offering services that would help their animals as well as the surrounding communities.
Since then, their intake rate has dropped, 97.2% of all the animals coming through the shelter are now finding homes.
Some of the new programs the Shelter is offering include foster programs including A Dog’s Day Out, Slumber Parties, and a Try Out a Pet for a Day program. They also offer bottle feeding training and a first responder program for injured animals.
Shelter goals included managed intake to help reduce the shelter population including intake prevention and pet retention programs. They also offer appointment-based intakes and surrender counseling. The shelter also offers community assistance programs during natural disasters.
Ginny says they also have a Community Cats program which offers reduced costs for spay and neutering. The community cats then go back into their neighborhood, helping to stabilize and hopefully reducing the population.
More than 5,000 animals are transported to northers states annually for adoption. Most are adopted two to seven days after their arrival. So far, that program has resulted in 11,000 adoptions since it began.
These and other programs are made possible through local support and national partners. Southern Pines was recognized nationally recently by the Petco Foundation.
What can you do to help? Ginny says, “get involved.” Adopt a pet, volunteer to help, foster an animal, donate money, shop at the Thrift Shop, and spread the word. There are also Constant Companion and Kennel Sponsorships available.
For more information contact Ginny at
Steven thanked our speaker and then adjourned the meeting with our motto, Service Above Self.