Claiborne Animal Shelter pushes fundraising amid pandemic

COVID-19 delays shelter's largest fundraiser of the year.
Published: Jul. 11, 2020 at 10:40 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Pet adoptions were up during the pandemic with many people looking for something to keep them company at home. However, the shelters that the animals came from have struggled.

Claiborne Animal Shelter in New Tazewell is celebrating a decade in the county. Before them, there was no rescue for stray animals.

“You saw a lot of animals out on the road; hit animals, and car accidents caused by dogs and cats,” Misti Roberts, the shelter’s director, said.

Roberts has worked at the shelter for eight years and is one of the organization’s three paid employees. However, instead of celebrating ten years, she is finding new ways to fund raise during the pandemic. The shelter’s largest fundraiser of the year is an annual gala and brings in about $12,000 in donations, but has been delayed and likely canceled due to COVID-19.

“It’s impacted us greatly,” Roberts said. She added that the county contributes $20,000 a year to the shelter and their annual budget is about $320,000. They’re left to fund raise the rest of the money through donations and grants.

On top of that, many projects around the shelter sit on hold. Back in December last year, they broke ground on a new cat cottage. The shelter is also still in the process of completing a dog park.

“It’s partially built and we’re kind of stuck.”

Roberts said one main problem is they need volunteers. As the virus continues to spread, she said they’ve been weary of bringing in too many.

“We have to really be careful because if our staff gets sick, then our building is shut down, which hurts our community, and hurts the animals,” she told WVLT News reporter Robert Grant. To continue working for the pets, Roberts said the shelter is looking at an online auction to replace the donations lost from the annual gala.

“We’re excited -- we want to get things going, but the pandemic has put a halt on it.”

Friday marked National Kitten Day. The warmer months see an uptick in cat drop offs because they typically reproduce this time of year.

“You have just an explosion. Warm weather and spring time is common. It’s like the the birds and the’s part of that behavior,” Roberts said. “In the winter you just don’t have it as much because of the cold. They don’t survive as well.”

Claiborne Animal Shelter has more than 70 cats up for adoption with 1,059 cats coming in total this year so far. Roberts said that’s more than they normally see and she’s pushing spay and neuter to help control the pet population.

You can see all of the adoptable pets on their website. They’re also asking for donations of toys, food, litter, and monetary donations. There is a board meeting planned for July 15 where Roberts said they’ll discuss future fundraising opportunities.

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