We’re really proud of the team we have at Abbey Carpet. Not only are they hard workers on the sales floor, many of them have a lot going on “off the field.” For instance, Scott Myers joined the Abbey team in July of 2019. When he’s not selling and managing contract sales and projects, he and his wife Kathy are rescuing animals with the organization The Feral Dogs of Avondale Mill and Friends of Sylacauga Animal Shelter.
It all started about five years ago when Scott and Kathy noticed several dogs running around the old Avondale textile mill in Sylacauga, AL. They started feeding them and trying to capture them to get them to a rescue. As fate would have it, one day they ran into Carolyn Morse who was doing the same thing, and Feral Dogs of Avondale Mill was born.
“That’s how it all started,” said Scott. “With just the two of them, me, and Carolyn’s husband tagging along, grabbing animals. We were out grabbing dogs and cats every day. I’ve always been an animal person, but it seemed like that day we were driving by the old mill and saw those dogs, it really grew from there.” In just the first year and half they rescued over 250 dogs, vetted them, and sent them to shelters for adoption.
The organization has grown to include a vast network of volunteers and shelters. Feral Dogs became such a big task that they joined forces with Sylacauga Animal Shelter and became a no-kill shelter. Volunteers often rescue animals and keep them in their own homes until space at the shelter becomes available. All animals are given medical attention, nursed back to health, and often placed with foster homes before staff connect with shelters across the country that have people waiting and ready to adopt. Scott estimates that at least a hundred dogs a month fly out in planes, as far north as New York and as far west as Texas.
“We really try to get them out of the state,” said Scott. “There are so many dogs that are not taken care of and thrown out on the street. A lot of them are dumped out as puppies. Alabama kind of gets a bad rap. Most of the shelters they’re sent to have a waiting list to adopt dogs. Usually by the time a dog gets to the shelter, they know it’s coming, it’s been advertised, and they’re adopted right away.”
All animals taken in are obviously homeless. They’re malnourished, covered in fleas and ticks, often have mange, or are even pregnant or have puppies with them. Scott and Kathy recently rescued three beagle puppies on Highway 21. The pups were in bad shape and tested positive for heartworms. “They spent a little over a month in my backyard getting healthy, and then they went to an animal rescue in New Hampshire,” Scott said.
Scott loves a good rescue story. His favorite is one of the first dogs they rescued from the mill. “It took us about eight months to catch this dog. We had already gotten the parents. We finally ended up chasing him under a house and then had to crawl under and get him. We hung onto him for about eight months before he went to a rescue shelter. We’ve since gotten pictures of him sprawled out on a couch. His name is Hunter.
Another time, we rescued a puppy who was just eating garbage in Sylacauga. Several months later we got a picture from the people that adopted her, and she was on her way to being a championship dog in obstacle course racing. She was really good at.”
Scott and his wife Kathy have six dogs and five cats themselves, every one of them with some sort of problem that would likely keep them from getting adopted. Their beagle, for instance, was a rescue and requires twice-daily seizure medication. They found their cat, Mew, abandoned as a kitten in a barn, and they bottle fed her for two months. She’s been with them a year and a half now.
“The biggest way for people to cut down on these problems is to spay and neuter,” said Scott. Animal shelters buy bulk spay and neuter certificates that can then be purchased for just $25. The animals are transported to a veterinarian in Birmingham, stay overnight, and then are brought back in the morning. We grab stray cats all the time. Cats aren’t a big commodity, but we’ll take them in, get them spayed and neutered, and then let them go. At least the population is coming down.”
If you’d like to help The Feral Dogs of Avondale Mill and Friends of Sylacauga Animal Shelter, they’re always in need of sponsors. Once animals are ready to be shipped for adoption, they usually go out 10-15 at a time. A sponsorship of $25 per animal is all that’s needed to help cover gas, food, and transportation. For more information or to volunteer, contact The Feral Dogs of Avondale Mill and Friends of Sylacauga Animal Shelter on Facebook and friendsofsas.org.