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Passionate For Rescues working to get shelter animals adopted before they are euthanized

Seeing a homeless animal is heartbreaking for most.

Day after day, the unwanted canine or feline is left to wander the streets in hopes of locating shelter and something to eat.

If lucky, maybe it will find an overturned garbage can that has food scraps waiting to be gobbled up.

However, rummaging through the trash may likely get him or her picked up by animal control.

Once at a shelter, the dog or cat will be housed and receive nourishment, but only temporarily, because when time runs out on their stay, and if not adopted, the animal will be euthanized.

But thanks to Passionate For Rescues, the outcome for many of the animals at the Vicksburg Animal Shelter is improving.

The group has started a Facebook page showcasing the animals in hopes someone will adopt them, and they are also seeking out volunteers to help walk and interact with the animals at the shelter.

Darlene Hughes, whose brainchild was Passionate For Rescues, said she decided she wanted to make a difference after visiting the Vicksburg Animal Shelter at 100 Old Mill Road.

“I came down here one day to pick up a dog to take to the vet for Paws Rescue, and it was the first time I had come down here. I was just in shock over the conditions. The city pound in Vicksburg has always been a lost place, and when I walked up to one of the cages and saw this skinny little dog with his ribs showing, it just killed me seeing that, so when I left that day, I promised them all, I would be back to help,” Hughes said.

Hughes went to the mayor with her grievances and with a concerted effort by many, including Georgia Lynn of the Vicksburg Warren County Humane Society and Paws Rescue, improvements have been made at the shelter.

“I am happy for the improvements that have been made, and there have been plenty,” Hughes said.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. commended Passionate For Rescues, saying without their volunteer help, all the improvements made could not have been afforded.

“I have been quite pleased with their manpower. We are now on the right track for better service as a shelter and with rescue,” Flaggs said. “This has been good for the community and the animals, and that is what community is all about.”

Passionate for Rescues volunteers have worked tirelessly, giving their personal time and money, to save the lives at the Vicksburg animal shelter. Those animals, without the work of those volunteers, would have been killed for lack of space at the shelter.

Currently, there are 11 volunteers who spend time with the animals at the shelter. However, a core of four to six faithfuls try to make certain at least one volunteer is available during the shelter’s visiting hours, which are from 8 to 11 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.

“They get in your heart,” volunteer Judy McKnight said about the animals at the shelter.

“It’s like you may want to take a day off, but then you will wonder how one of the animals is doing, so you come down to check on them.”

Volunteer Kim Hill said she helps out because, like all of the other volunteers, she wants to make a difference in an animal’s life.

“I just want to help the dogs. They have such a bad story when they come in, and I feel like we can change their story, because they have so much love to give. If people will just open up their hearts to them, then they can change their bad story,” Hill said.

The cost to adopt an animal from the shelter is only $20, Hughes said, and then Paws Rescue, which is a local non-profit, no-kill animal rescue that works with Passionate For Rescues, will cover the cost of having the animal spayed or neutered and give it its first set of shots.

“If an animal is adopted, it has to be taken to the vet and fixed,” Hughes said.

And as an animal advocate, Hughes promotes spaying, neutering, adopting and volunteering.

“It takes a village,” she said.

More than anything, Hughes said Passionate for Rescues needs more community members to volunteer at the shelter.

“I pray for more volunteers,” Hughes wrote in a post on the group’s Facebook page. “We basically have four (volunteers who are going to the shelter regularly) right now. It’s sad for the animals.”

In addition to promoting the available animals heavily on the Facebook page, the volunteers walk the dogs and help socialize them and the cats and kittens. The dogs get to spend some time outside the confines of their cages, thanks to the Passionate for Rescues volunteers.

Those same volunteers have purchased raised beds for each of the dog kennels, which gives the dogs a place to sleep off of the cold and often wet floors.

They have also provided medications for animals that have needed it.

Hughes said monetary contributions are also encouraged for Paws Rescue, which works in conjunction with Passionate for Rescues. Paws Rescue operates only on donations and grants.

For more information on Passionate For Rescues or to find out what you need to do to volunteer, call 601-636-6982 or visit the group’s Facebook page.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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