What started out as a grassroots animal welfare effort in 2005 has now grown to become an important organization dedicated to a watchdog role and promotion of humane treatment of cats and dogs and all animals.

The organization, “A Time 4 Paws (AT4P), is a no kill nonprofit striving to assist and work with other animal groups, assisting with shelter, transportation for adoption of animals and promotion of animal welfare.

Volunteers always help non-profit agencies run smoother and AT4P is no different. Volunteers are used in many ways Volunteers help at the adoption facility, with building projects, maintenance projects, publicity, care of dogs and cats housed at center, purchasing and transporting supplies. Volunteers also help with food, transport of animals to vet appointments, assist staff with off-site publicity events, foster care, supply amenity donations, assist in writing grants to obtain income needed to maintain and make needed facility improvements.

Volunteers help staff the thrift store on a regular and some assist on an intermittent basis.

Tasks include processing incoming goods, taking recycling to the proper locations, yard maintenance, general plumbing and maintenance repairs upon need.

Previous experience working with animals is always a plus and helpful to the animals, the organization and the volunteers. Friendly people who are OK with flexible scheduling and/or committing to certain project schedules that are not so flexible are valuable.

Persons who are familiar with and endorse the no kill philosophy are welcome. AT4P requires volunteers pets to be spayed or neutered unless the vet says they can’t be. Dogs can’t be chained 24/7. And we are a smoke free work place.

Time and training required depends on the job to be undertaken, whether short-term or long-term and whether or not specific skills are needed. These skills could be building, painting, cleaning, organizing, communicating and/or education.

There will always be ongoing goals based upon improvement needs, so there is always a need for volunteers The volunteer program for AT4P is perfect for students wishing to fulfill the requirements to receive the Tennessee Promise scholarships. Youth volunteers must be with a person 21 or over and have their own transportation.

Mickey Trimble smiles as she pets one of the cats housed at the AT4P adoption center on Cook Rd. The organization operates a number of additional programs aimed at helping people keep their pets instead of surrendering them and building or donating houses for animals kept outside. Volunteer applications are available via email by contacting AT4P at savetnpets@gmail.com or calling (931) 787-0610.

 

AT4P is open seven days a week at the adoption center hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.weekdays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekends. Soon to be open late one day per week. The number to call is (931) 456-6906. Thrift store hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on SaturdayVolunteer applications are available via email by contacting AT4P at savetnpets@gmail.com

Applications can also be picked up at the thrift store or adoption center.

AT4P — in the beginning — consisted of two people, the president and founder Karen McMeekin, and the current vice-president, Teresa Williams. Before becoming a 501c3 non profit, the organization assisted the local municipal shelter in daily activities as volunteers.

Later AT4P launched a transport program to move dogs to northern states that at the time were believed to have less homeless dogs available for adoption. McMeekin, driving her truck and horse trailer, would make monthly runs to Ohio and New Jersey and bring dogs to either accepting shelters or preadoptive homes.

After two years  of this, McMeekin learned of the no kill philosophy of animal sheltering. Attending conferences in Washington D.C.; Kanab, UT; Austin, TX; and Atlanta, GA, she learned how progressive municipal shelters were changing the lives and outlook of animal sheltering by embracing this philosophy and implementing the programs necessary to stop the killing.

McMeekin is now a certified humane investigator and is trained through the Univ of Missouri Law enforcement training extension. Her education and experience in animal rescue have prepared her to assist the community and law enforcement in the area of cruelty and neglect.

Most animals at the local shelter and many across the country have been killed due to “ lack of space.”

“We believe there is a successful way to change that and it has been proven to work,” said McMeekin. “Transporting by the masses to other states and into accepting shelters isn’t one of them.”

 McMeekin and other no kill leaders believe that it’s not solving the problem by taking animals to other locations and that it is a policy of some shelters to raise their live release numbers and lower their kill numbers.

“After years of failure trying to share the philosophy with the county shelter directors , and how to embrace the parts of the no kill equation we decided to open our own adoption center,” said McMeekin. In 2010 A Time 4 Paws opened their first adoption center. In June 2016 McMeekin bought the old humane society/city shelter located at Cook Rd. where homeless animals were housed. McMeekin and crew added  dog walking trails and three indoor/outdoor catteries and several exercise areas. This was completely funded by donations.

AT4P and the programs created to improve the “save rate” at the local shelter have been recognized in the community. AT4P has created programs to assist residents in keeping their pets instead of seeking to surrender them, including a pet food pantry at Kroger, Food City and Pet Sense stores. AT4P is also adoption partners with the corporation Pet Sense. This is just one example of the way AT4P is making a difference for animals and people in our area.

Other programs include House 4 Hounds (building and donating housing to outdoor animals and Fences 4 Furry Friends (building and installing fences for chained dogs). AT4P has also created a task force to work on lobbying the state for better laws and local ordinances.

Low cost spay and neuter programs through grants are part of what AT4P has created. They do not take in strays, protocol allows all strays to enter the city/county operated and funded municipal shelter located on East Lane. Appointments are made for surrender to their no kill facility. Entrance protocols must be met before entrance, but the security in knowing the animal won’t be killed due to lack of space or some other reason helps concerned citizens. “Our goal is not to be needed” that sounds odd but if the local community, and government would embrace the no kill philosophy , we could be used as providers of parts to the no kill equation rather than as an intake facility.”

The Center is open seven days a week, offering visitors the opportunity to spend time with the animals, in a clean, friendly atmosphere getting to know the potential adoptees. Many visitors are unable to adopt or are trying to find a way to ease the loneliness of personal losses. Visitors say that interacting with the animals gives them some comfort, peace and happiness.

A Time 4 Paws Thrift Store helps generate funds for the cost of operating the organization and is instrumental in helping to fulfill their  mission. With the public’s continued monthly financial support, items being donated daily, and volunteer time, McMeekin believes AT4P can succeed in saving lives, improving the laws that govern how animals are treated, and finding forever homes for the animals in their care.

AT4P will continue working to create a nokill community where all animals are safe and homeless pets are cared for in a non life-threatening environment at the local municipal shelter.

Due in large part to the efforts of A Time 4 Paws, along with those of other animal welfare organizations, the annual animal intake at the municipal shelter has decreased by approximately 50 percent since 2005 when A Time 4 Paws was established.

To anonymously report animal abuse (after contacting local animal control to report it), citizens can call (931) 4abuse-2 or (931) 4228732.

 

Story from Crossville Chronicle.