Greater Athens September 2020 - Page 14

TALES OF RESCUE Happy Tails connects animals with good homes Story and photos by Shelli Parker When Tina Hamilton moved to the lake area, she immediately saw a need for an animal rescue. Once, she took in a stray rat terrier, and tried to find his home. Locals said he was probably a victim of dumping, an all too common practice in Henderson County. “I was informed that I was over my limit of animals to keep in the city,” she said. “So I went to city hall and tried to find a no-kill shelter and it was nearly unheard of. I realized I was going to have to do it on my own.” She then went on a journey to help as many animals as she could by volunteering with animal control, helping rescue from puppy mills and other bad situations. She was able to help find homes for some of the animals she picked up. “I knew I needed to do something, I didn’t know how, but I knew I had to,” she said. Happy Tails rescue is currently home to dogs, cats, alpacas, an emu, sheep, goats, miniature horses which is a unique feature as most local rescues do not take farm animals. In the beginning it was a severe struggle and uphill battle while she tried to find her path to helping the animals. People started to hear about her efforts and animals started rolling in. When a donor provided a much needed donation to purchase land, she found nearly four acres and began setting up a place for the animals. “Payday to payday, I put one T-post up at a time, nearly 400 of them, and I built the rescue,” she said. “I’ve adopted out almost 1,300 animals.” Kennel by kennel, rescue mission after rescue mission, she slowly built it up to help more and more animals with a true no-kill rescue. “I look back and wonder how I did it,” she said. “Talking about the journey makes me happy, knowing the animals are going to good homes.” 14 Greater Athens Magazine | September 2020