Mississippi’s first no kill shelter faces closure


In early September, the Laurel/Jones County Animal Rescue announced that they were facing the possibility of closing the shelter due to a lack of funds.

According to Amy Townsend, president of the ARL’s board, the shelter does not receive any funding from grants or the state and federal governments. They operate strictly on individual donations and money raised through events and fundraisers.

The League’s board is made up entirely of volunteers, and a few part-time employees staff the shelter. Since other shelters have opened in the surrounding area, they have seen a drop in the amount of donations they receive.

After word spread about the ARL’s critical situation, they received a flood of support from the community through donations and volunteers offering to help. Townsend said that while this initial wave of support was much appreciated, the shelter will need continual support and donations to stay afloat.

“The situation is not as dire as it was a few weeks ago, but the problem is that we had a huge outpouring of support from the community, which is great, but if we don’t stay in the news or in the eyesight of the community, then we lose those donations again,” Townsend said.

The ARL has not always had many volunteers, but recently they have recently been hosting volunteer orientations to show potential volunteers how they can help around the shelter.

“We would love volunteers,” Townsend said. “If people can’t donate, then we need the manpower and the volunteers to help socialize the animals so that they are ready for adoption.”

“The shelter is a service to the community because we can help so many animals.” “I know there are several [animal shelters], but we do a big service as well to this community. And we’ve been here so long, so there is a need.”

Mary Hinton, one of the few shelter employees, is a high school student who started out as a volunteer. She works at the shelter after school and on the weekends. Hinton said she loves working with the animals at the shelter and that seeing an animal find its home makes everything worthwhile.

When it was founded in 1981, the ARL was the only no kill shelter in Mississippi. The organization is also the oldest shelter in Jones County. Today, ARL remains a no kill shelter and works with numerous other shelters in the country to ensure that it maintains that status through transports. The shelter takes in hundreds of stray and unwanted animals every year.

The ARL is hosting and will be present at many upcoming events in order to raise funds for the shelter, including their Puppies on the Patio event at The Loft in Downtown Laurel on Oct. 14.