Irked by the methods of area “kill shelters,” local animal rights activist Terri Ann Smith has run her own shelter for years. To help fund the effort, Smith recently opened a thrift store, a move that has raised questions from local officials.
The Animal Friends Shelter, located in Shade on old Route 33, is an organization unaffiliated with the Athens County Dog Shelter and Athens County Humane Society, Smith said.
“I’ve always rescued stray animals because it’s something I do naturally,” she said. “Whenever I find a find a stray or road dog, I do whatever I can to bring it in and eventually find it a new home and owner.”
Smith took it upon herself to open up a pet-friendlier shelter after disagreeing with area government-run animal programs.
“I am not at all affiliated with the Athens County Dog Shelter,” Smith said. “I do not like or agree with their policies, such as it being a kill shelter. I don’t think it’s run well, and I would never treat an animal (like they do.) I definitely think that there is room for animal rescue improvement in Athens.”
In her voluntary approach to improving animal rescue in Athens County, Smith said the number of stray dogs she encounters surprises her.
“After the last college semester is over and most of the students leave, it seems like a lot more dogs get dumped on the roads,” Smith said. “Another problem I’ve seen is over breeding in the rural parts of town. (Despite) Athens’s progression, it seems like there is still a lot of people who do not spay and neuter their animals.”
To continue funding her efforts in animal rescue Smith opened the Thrift Store for Animal Friends, 21 Kern St., on April 1 of this year.
The “thrift boutique” donates 50 to 75 percent of its proceeds to Smith’s shelter for spay and neutering services, veterinarian bills, food, shelter, adoption advertising and general rescue operations she said.
Despite the store advertisements that state: “The Thrift Store for Animal Friends donates its proceeds to local animal rescues,” Smith has clarified the proceeds benefit her own personal rescue effort.
County Commissioner Larry Payne, who oversees the Athens County Dog Shelter with the other two commissioners, said though he appreciates what Smith does for the community, he wishes her store would benefit more local rescue programs.
“A shelter is allowed to be in business as long as it operates within the state’s rules and regulations,” Payne said. “That being said, it would be nice if (The Thrift Store for Animal Friends) told its customers where exactly its proceeds were going since it seems like they are only supporting (the owner’s) shelter.”
The thrift store offers many different pieces of merchandise ranging in price from 50 cents to $200, including household furniture, clothing, appliances and electronics, Smith said, adding the store also offers a home pick-up and delivery system.
“The Thrift Store for Animal Friends will take anything that is reusable and will attract new owners,” Smith said.