Several years back, the animal shelter in Knoxville, Tennessee, was part of the Knoxville Humane Society and part of Knox County government. As I understand it, budget cutbacks and increasing demands on the shelter led the shelter’s leadership to start a different non-profit. And so, the Young Williams Animal Center was born. I cannot say enough good things about this shelter. It’s a great place to adopt, a humane place to bring strays or unwanted animals and it is also a great place to volunteer or have a school project.
Young Williams Animal Shelter is located on Division Street, near the old John Tarleton Home. It’s unlike any center I’ve ever been to. Things aren’t perfect, but you can tell the pets are comfortable and well-cared for at the Center. Some people disagree with the center’s policy. You do have to complete an application and adoption isn’t automatic. For example, managers might feel that you don’t need a German Shepherd if you live in a singlewide with no yard. (And I tend to agree.) Likewise, you probably won’t be able to adopt a cat if you plan to keep it outdoors and you live on Broadway.
Another controversial policy of the center is that all adopted pets are spayed and neutered. Many of the workers have been involved with animal care most of their lives, so they don’t want to have to euthanize your cat’s litters every spring.
You can view all adoptable animals on their Web site. Just like the center itself, the site is separated into different types of animals. If you’re looking for a full-breed, let the shelter staff know and they’ll keep an eye out for you. The center also uses microchips, so if you’re missing a pet, this is the first place to contact.
The Young Williams Animal Center also offers a lot of education courses. Past classes have included training for new puppies and teaching certain large breeds of animals proper behavior. The shelter also aggressively goes after grants and community funding. With this, they can sometimes waive adoption fees for senior citizens and offer free rabies shots for low-income families. The shelter has also been working with local food pantries since the economy took a nosedive. You may notice bins at local grocery stores for pet food. Some of this is given out at the center. Others are distributed through area food pantries. When families need help feeding their children, they probably need help feeding their pets as well.
When I first visited this shelter, I was struck by the fact that it’s not the dark, smelly, depressing shelter that I’ve grown to expect. The center has lots of windows, both outside and internal windows that let you see the cats and dogs relaxing. The center has places outside where the dogs can exercise and play. Cat areas have plenty of scratching boards and climbing places. You’ll often find cats stretching out in the sun. The center also has private rooms where a family can spend some alone time with a potential pet to see if the family and the pet might be a good match.
The center also takes in exotic pets. I’ve seen a few horses and even a mule at the center. You may also find things like snakes, lizards and – if you’re lucky – a pair of sugargliders.
I have been so fortunate in that I’ve never had to take one of my beloved pets to an animal shelter. If I ever had to, I would take my pet to the Young Williams Animal Center. I feel pets have the best chance at finding a new family. I also feel that pets would not feel as though they were abandoned in a prison.