Upshur County Hope House for Pets is a volunteer-run animal care facility dedicated to the reduction of homeless and mistreated companion pets in the county by finding loving forever homes for those currently in need, spaying and neutering existing adoptable animals to prevent future litters, returning lost animals to their owners, and reaching out to the community and educating the public. Hope House will never use euthanasia as a means of population control.
The idea was formulated early in 2012 when Gilmer Animal Control and the Gilmer Police department brought in several dogs to Dr. Nazzal's vet clinic, Animal Medical and Surgical Hospital. Two pit bulls were brought in that were tied on a short leash in the freezing rain in January 2012 without food or water or shelter. The dogs had to drink the urine and rain water that accumulated in the dirt. There was no evidence of bowls anywhere in the yard. Despite heroic measures, the younger pit died. He looked like bones with plastic stretched over them. The female named Snow recovered, was treated for a massive worm burdon, both heartworms and intestinal worms, spayed later on, given all vaccinations, six month heartworm shot, and is currently being fostered in Ore City.
The next important animal case was when Officer Larry Sewell jumped into a dumpster and rescued a puppy that was gunshot and thrown in the dumpster right before the trash truck came. Animal control brought her into the vet clinic for the day and wanted to take her to Longview pound the next day to be euthanized , but Dr. Nazzal would not let him take her. The vet was going to try to give this precious little girl a second chance. After many surgeries, Treasure recovered and started to flourish. Once she was stable and healthy, she was given all her vaccinations, spayed, dewormed, deflead, and also given the six month heartworm shot. She was adopted by a wonderful lady with two young daughters.
Soon after Treasure found a home, Destiny was brought in by a couple who wanted her put out of her misery. The couple suspected she belonged to a neighbor who beat her with a baseball bat. Her leg was shattered in two areas. Dr. Nazzal again refused to give up on this baby who so desperately wanted a second chance. The couple had to sign Destiny over to the vet clinic and the vet clinic assured them they were not responsible for any financial obligations. The vet clinic would pay for her treatment. Destiny had to have several pins and plates in her leg to try to repair it. She responded well after four surgeries, was also spayed, vaccinated, dewormed, and adopted.
About the same time, a woodpecker came in with a broken leg, which Dr. Nazzal fixed. By this time, it was around June of 2012 and Dr. Nazzal got the feeling that God was trying to tell her something about trying to help the abuse and injured animals in Upshur County. She met with several other wonderful ladies who felt the same way, Teresa Hebebrand, Anita Smith, Michelle Enloe, Ann Marie Hamilton, to name just a few.
Upshur County Hope House for Pets was founded in August 2012 by a group of people in the community in response to the county’s urgent need for a solution to the problems with animal cruelty and overpopulation of stray companion animals. They met with the Commissioners Court at a scheduled meeting. The Commissioners Court and Judge Fowler agreed there is a need for a no-kill facility in Upshur County, but there was a bunch of resistance from the audience, people in our community, who labelled Hope House participants as "tree huggers."
Hope House devised a 3-phase plan to open the facility. The first phase is the start-up, which involved mountains of both paperwork and legwork to incorporate and introduce ourselves to the community. The second phase is operating a foster-run facility and increasing awareness, while raising funds necessary to open a brick-and-mortar facility. Phase Three is opening the brick-and-mortar facility.
Phase One is Complete. During the last year and a half, the members of Upshur County Hope House have worked hard to complete Phase One. They started by incorporating in September 2012, then began the process of applying for 501(c)3 status with the IRS. This was a very involved process and with the help of Daphne Grimes and her staff, Teresa Hebebrand, Anita Smith and Michelle Enloe, were able to file the application in January 2013. Standard Operating Procedures, Adoption Handbook/Application, Foster Handbook/Application, Intake Procedures, By-Laws, and all the necessary paperwork are included in this first phase and had to be written and re-written.
In the meantime, the group busied themselves with making public appearances as often as possible to spread the word about the organization and its mission. They attended booths and Chickfest in Pittsburg, the Gilmer Yamboree, the Progressive Car Show, and Ewell Trades Days, to name a few. Girl Scout Troop 3614 became involved, collected, washed, and repaired animal bedding and made the donation to the Hope House. Three young girls also produced an adoption video to win their Bronze award.
Hope House also organized several events in order to raise money for their cause. In December, 2012, they held their first major fundraiser, Christmas in the Land of Pawz. Upshur County Community Players performed a play for the fundraiser. They have also held two smaller events: the Cherokee Rose Pet Show, with the assistance of the Interact students of Gilmer High and Rachel Trimble, and the Veterinary Science 4-H students under Andrea Brunson, in May 2013, and Photos with Santa this past November, 2013. Each of these events helped gain publicity for Hope House and raise funds to open the facility. Also, to raise money and perform a community service, the Upshur County 4H Veterinary Science students with Dr. Cherie Nazzal hold a monthly low cost animal vaccination clinic at PETCO and they split the money with Hope House.
This past month, Upshur County Hope House finally received their 501(c)3 status from the IRS, thus completing phase one. This is a huge step making it possible to start phase two. A capital campaign will be initiated to start to raise the funds needed to purchase a Mobile Adoption Unit and begin operations. A foster drive will be held in the near future to recruit as many foster families as possible to house animals waiting for adoption.
Phase Two is In progress – Have A Heart. The first step in phase two is underway. In less than one week, on February 15th, a casino night fundraiser called Have a Heart at Flying Feathers Ranch, venue donated by Alicia Nolte with Fete for Pets, will be held five miles south of Gilmer. The evening will begin with a dinner service by Paula Prince Catering, followed by a night of gaming, run by the Longview Knights of Columbus. Longview Med Shop and Jan and Pat Downing donated the marguerita machine with the alcohol and mixers and Don and Pat Walworth are donating and bringing the beer. Cheryl Rush, Dannielle Molesworth and Mary Smith, to name a few, are gathering donated items from community businesses.
The proceeds of this event will go towards the purchase of a Mobile Adoption Unit. This vehicle will allow the transport of animals to adoption events and showcase them in a safe and comfortable environment. This fundraiser is expected to raise $10,000 for this purpose. Tickets are on sale now at $50 each, and can be acquired by calling 903-734-4909 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a nonprofit corporation, Hope House is owned and operated by the community. They could not have made it this far without the help of our community. They feel they have been truly blessed to have such a wonderful group of people willing to donate funds and volunteer their time to help us with our mission. While there are too many to name, the following people have been extremely generosity: Daphne Grimes and her staff; Gilmer High School’s Interact Club with Rachel Trimble; Alicia Nolte and Flyin’ Feathers Ranch; Upshur County Community Players; Gilmer 4-H; and Gilmer Girl Scout Troop 3614.
With the continued support of the community, Hope House is hoping Phase Two will be successful and can start making a difference to the neglected, abused and homeless animals in our county.