By DONNA NEELY
Maureen O’Nell, Michele Lee, Traci Miller, Jerri Rule and the entire New Leash on Life (NLOL) staff are very dedicated to improving the welfare of companion animals in Wilson County through shelter, home placement, spay/neuter along with community education and awareness programs. In addition, they educate and train the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department to be on the look out for neglected or homeless animals.
Over 200 community members interested in the same mission attended the first meeting in 1978. Those who met confessed to feeling helpless to aid in the cause of improving animal suffering and homelessness. There were no resources and no place for homeless animals to be sheltered in the area.
New Leash on Life was formed in July of the same year under the original name of the Humane Association of Wilson County by a group of caring individuals dedicated to end the suffering of abandoned and unwanted pets in Wilson County. In October 1978, the group became incorporated and began the goal of obtaining funds to build an animal shelter. In late 1982, the first successful capital campaign was launched, and in July 1983 the current adoption center was opened.
The adoption center employs five full-time and two part-time employees with varying backgrounds in animal welfare, veterinary and pet care. All are dedicated animal lovers and work from the heart. NLOL is blessed with dozens of extraordinary volunteers who are quite varied in their lifestyles. Volunteers who, despite working a 40+ hour work week, carve out time to tend to the cats and kittens from the adoption center who are waiting to be adopted at PetSmart at Providence Marketplace, Mt. Juliet. The group of dedicated animal lovers on our “Cat Team” cleans cat condos and litter boxes, feeds and waters them along with providing stimulating play with the felines twice per day, every day.
In addition to the cat team, we have a great group on the “Dog Team” who work tirelessly on Sundays at PetSmart when some of the dogs from the adoption center visit the store for off-site adoptions between 1pm and 4pm every Sunday. The team counsels potential adopters, assists families in selecting a new pet for their home, walks the dogs and talks about the mission of New Leash on Life with customers. There are individual volunteers who open up their homes to temporarily house or ‘foster’ a pet with special needs.
New Leash on Life could never assist the thousands of pets without a strong core of volunteers. If you’d like to become a volunteer, visit: http://newleashonline.com/volunteer_for_new_leash.
Executive Director Maureen O’Nell explained how important it is to educate the public about having their pets spayed or neutered and to educate everyone about the seriousness of pet overpopulation. New Leash on Life even provides low or no-cost surgeries for those families with pets that need to be spayed or neutered. It is a “no-kill” animal welfare organization as they do not use or agree with euthanasia as a means of controlling pet overpopulation.
Almost Home is the longest-standing operation of the NLOL family. Their mission is to establish permanent adoption of abandoned cats and dogs. They provide shelter, food, basic medical care and training to each rescued animal. It is not unusual for them to find animals left overnight in crates or chained to trees in front of the building. Last year they were able to touch the lives of over 1,300 companion animals that, through no choice or fault of their own, were handed over for their care. Almost Home is typically the only alternative for those seeking a safe-haven for their animal.
Recognizing the importance of spay/neuter in solving pet over population and homelessness, the organization began operating the first mobile spay/neuter clinic in Tennessee in 2000. The “Spay Station” provides spay/neuter services to qualifi ed, low-income pet caretakers in rural Tennessee who might otherwise be unable to afford these services. New Leash on Life provides these services at no cost to the pet caretaker. In 2003, they started “Snip & Tip”, a trap/neuter/return program for feral and free roaming cats. While the Adoption Center is the original building that was opened in 1983, in 2008 they opened the doors of “Fix For Life,” a low-cost, high-quality Humane Alliance-model spay/neuter clinic located near Baddour Parkway. With all of their spay/neuter programs combined, NLOL has sterilized well over 50,000 animals. New Leash on Life currently occupies a facility that has deteriorated.
Its structure, along with its size and aging condition, is hindering their ability to meet the demand for their services and to ensure the health of the animals.
They need the community’s support in order to operate on a day to day basis. People can help by joining the Guardian Guild, NLOL’s monthly giving program, donating to the Angel Fund by providing items from their wish list or donating just by purchasing every day items with a Pinnacle Bank debit card. Visit www.newleashonline.org for ways to help support NLOL and their mission.
Future plans are to build a new facility on four acres of land that they own on Highway 109. The Big Pet Project will provide the organization an opportunity to better meet the needs of Wilson County through an increased capacity of an estimated 300 animals and the incorporation of a community education center.
The history of providing quality comprehensive spay/neuter services to the community is one example of the leadership and commitment to the New Leash on Life mission. The new facility will be built on land in Lebanon purchased by a generous grant from the Patricia and Edward J. McGavock Humane Treatment of Animals Fund of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. It will provide more sheltering space for animals in their care, a basic-service veterinary clinic and a community education center. Find out how to be a part of The Big Pet Project at www.thebigpetproject.com.
Community support is a vital necessity for the adoption center. NLOL has been blessed during the year with financial assistance from various resources. On November 5, 2010, the Kroger Company presented New Leash on Life with check for $14,500 for placing in the top f ve during the “Tales for the Pet Lover’s Heart” campaign sponsored by Nestle Purina and Kroger. The award was for an original
video, which depicts the human-animal bond created because of the commitment of NLOL.
Another huge community event in 2010, with more than 700 participants, benefiting the cause was the Inaugural Two Rivers Ford Turkey Trot 5K and Family Fun Run on Thanksgiving morning. Runners, those with canine companions along with those walking began on the USA Track and Field-certified 5K course through Providence and the Providence Marketplace and finished their trek at Two Rivers Ford. The event raised $8,000 with proceeds going to New Leash on Life and is planned again for next year.
A local school, The Leadership Academy of Walter J. Baird Middle School, has partnered with New Leash on Life with the students becoming actively involved in community driven activities through the New Leash partnership and coming up with creative solutions to fulfill some on-going needs at the shelter. The goal to work closely with NLOL staff, their Board and other community agencies to provide bimonthly visits for service projects, weekly visits to perform volunteer work and create a model by which other youth programs can serve the shelter and that can be adapted for other agencies as well. The hope is that students involved with the New Leash on Life partnership will recognize their capacity to advocate for and contribute to community involvement on a local level, then later on a national and international scale, all while putting to practical use the skills and knowledge attained in the classroom. Students at the middle school recently held a cookie sale fundraiser, raising $750 for The Center.
Other pending fundraisers for 2011 include Bark in the Park in May, the Art Crawl with the date yet to be determined and Photos with The Grinch in December. Development Director Traci Miller explained, “Community support through contributions, foster care, volunteers and events are very much needed and greatly appreciated.” Whether it’s donating time, money or a good home for a needy pet, the Wilson County community is encouraged to assist with the worthwhile cause … it could very possibly give an individual a new leash on life as well.
Almost Home Pet Adoption Center
507 Jim Draper Blvd (off Baddour Parkway behind Pro Bowl West for mapquest use 507 W. Baddour Pkwy)
Lebanon, TN 37087 (615) 444-1144 Fax (615) 444-4997