Haleigh Welch knows that humans can be cruel. She experienced the repercussions firsthand when she adopted her rescue dog, Ollie.
“He was out near a trailer park, just kind of living with the wildlife around there,” she said. “When I took him to the vet after I got him, they found a BB in his skin from where someone shot him.”
Understandably, Ollie was hesitant about people when he first met Welch. But time and love helped him heal.
“He’s a corgi-chihuahua mix. I got him through Friends of Glynn Animals ... he was being fostered by someone who couldn’t keep him. At first, he really hated men and was really fearful,” she said. “But, he’s turned around. We did some training, and now he is really very loving and loyal.”
How Welch found her fur baby is similar to many stories of those who adopt rescues. It may be a tough road at the start, but the result is incredibly rewarding. That’s why she was drawn to working with nonprofit groups who help make these types of stories come true.
Welch, a recent graduate of College of Coastal Georgia, has been a board member and volunteer with No Kill Glynn County for a couple of years now. She got her start with the grassroots rescue organization by first working with another local group.
“I was involved with Friends of Glynn Animals and did a lot of social media things,” she said. “Then the executive director of that organization introduced me to the rest of the animal rescue world here.”
Welch made contacts within No Kill Glynn County, including the two primary team members, Theresa Ellis and Shelly Bydlinkski. The duo handles an enormous workload on behalf of the organization and the animals it supports.
“I met Theresa and Shelly, and I’d just kept bothering them about letting me help ... It’s really just the two of them, and it is a lot of work,” she said.
Welch started turning up for adoption events and lending a hand with the No Kill Glynn County Facebook page. She also signed on to be a foster for animals. It allowed her to fulfill a lifelong passion for helping four-legged friends in need.
“From a very young age, I was interested in animal advocacy. I actually wanted to be a vet, but I shadowed one once and quickly realized it was not for me. I’m too squeamish,” she said with a laugh.
“But I wanted to speak up for those who didn’t have a voice. I can do that with No Kill Glynn County. I think I’ve probably rescued 15 or 20 animals in total over the last two years just out of my house.”
She’s shared her home with mama cats who recently had litters of kittens as a foster. That, Welch adds, is something that others in the community could do as well.
“We provide all the supplies for fostering,” she said. “You really just need a spare room in your house. It only takes a little bit of time, patience and love. We are always looking for more foster families.”
Welch has been inspired by the number of people who have stepped up. And she’s noticing a difference locally. While there is still an issue with pet overpopulation, she feels the group is making a positive impact.
“Growing up here, I definitely noticed the stray animals here ... especially around downtown Brunswick when I was going to Glynn Academy. I didn’t realize that it was such a political issue, but I think everyone is working together better now,” she said.
“We’re doing our part to help, especially with our program where we humanely trap, neuter, get shots for and release cats. That’s helped to stave off the population. But everyone can help. It certainly takes a village.”
As for the future, the newly minted college graduate has her eyes set on continuing to work with nonprofits.
“My degree is in public administration, and I’m still working as a barista at Wake Up Coffee,” she said. “But I’m very interested in grant writing and have been working with local nonprofits to further my skillset there.”
Coastal People appears Tuesdays. Contact Lindsey Adkison at email@example.com or at 265-8320, ext. 346 to suggest a person for a column.