Guidelines for Telephone Volunteers

TLC's new Phone Number

256 617 9496

In General

Don't be in a hurry. Listen. Ask open ended questions: "Tell me about it."

Sometimes people just need reassurance that they are doing the right thing.

People may need transportation, but they may not volunteer this information.

Get their name and phone, and area of town they live in.

Things People Are likely to Need

  1. They found a stray.
    1. Can they hang on to it for a while?
    2. Can they spend a week trying to find its owner. Things they can do to find its owner.
      1. If dog, take it to see your neighbors, to see if anyone recognizes it. If cat, take picture to neighbors
      2. Call Animal Services to report it found.
      3. Take it to a vet for a microchip check.
      4. Put up a sign in your yard. More in the neighborhood if you can.
      5. Put it on Nextdoor, or your local Homeowners association.
      6. Put it on the appropriate lost and found facebook page.
    3. Finding a Foster -- See Section Below.

  2. They have a sick or injured pet.
    1. Take their contact information and area to see which of our vets they are closest to.
    2. Ask if they can they help pay?
    3. Ask if they will need transportation to the vet.
    4. Get this information to our Vet Coordinator ASAP.

  3. They have an animal that needs to be put down for health reasons. The information above about sick or injured pets applies. Additionally they may want someone to be with them for moral support. This is a hard thing to do.

  4. They have breeding animals and perhaps puppies or kittens.
    1. Is anyone in heat? Can they separate the males and females?
    2. We need to get them fixed, starting with the breeding adults. We may want to get one sex done first.
    3. Will kittens or puppies need to be adopted? They'll have to be vetted at the appropriate time.
    4. Get all the information you can and relay it to the Vet Coordinator who will schedule appointments.

  5. They can't afford to feed their pets.
    1. Kings Kitchen at Greater Huntsville Humane Society currently has pet food.
      To receive the food, people need to come to GHHS and apply. Their income has to be below $25,000 and they need proof of income. If they are approved, they can receive food for 6 months. After that, they can apply again in 2 years.
      Greater Huntsville Humane Society (GHHS)
      Phone: (256) 881-8081
      Address: 2812 Johnson Rd SW, Huntsville, Alabama
      Hours: Tuesday Saturday from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm.
      Please call in advance to ensure the pantry is amply stocked.
    2. Manna House gives away pet food to people in need.
      Manna House
      2110 S Memorial Pkwy, Huntsville, AL 35801
      Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 4:00 to 6:30
    3. Petco -- Petco sometimes gives us free pet food. If we have this it will be stowed in someone's garage, and we will let you know whose.
    4. When we must buy pet food, we get inexpensive brands.
  6. They have an animal they don't want to keep anymore.
    1. Do they really want to keep it, but feel they can't? Might they really just need advice and/or help on how to take care of it? Digging out of fence, fighting, jumping up on people, yanking on leash.
    2. Is it finances that is the problem? We might be able to help.
    3. They may genuinely need to rehome the animal.
      Find out the circumstances and how long they will be able to keep the animal while we look for a home.
      Be sure to ask about what vetting it has had.
      See Finding a Foster and Rehoming Animalsbelow
    4. They are jerks. Try to remember the welfare of the animal, before you hang up with a rude comment.

  7. Their parent died, leaving a dog, and they don't know what to do with it. The dog is usually older. Finding a foster is often difficult. We do get pictures and we do try, but most times we don't get any response from potential adopters. We do have to discuss euthanizing and usually they have thought about that too. Sometimes they will want you to meet them at the vet's and just be there.

  8. People wanting to adopt.
    1. People may call wanting to adopt one of the animals we have for adoption. Get their contact information for our Adoption Coordinator.
      We'll want them to fill out an adoption application, and we'll set up a meet 'n greet the next day if possible.
    2. Link to Adoption Applications :
    3. Link to our adoptable animals:
    4. Or they may be looking for a particular type of animal that we don't have. Take their information. We'll be happy to pass their request on to our rescue friends.

  9. People may call wanting to give us something. We gratefully accept.
    Our mailing address for donations is
    TLC for Paws P.O. Box 1531, Madison, AL 35758

  10. Freeloaders -- Occasionally you may run into people trying to get something for free that they are able to pay for themselves.

Conserving our Resources

We have a limited amount of money to spend. To make it go farther, we economize wherever we can.

Ask if people are able to help with the finances. Often they can pay all or part. If not, they might wish to help in other ways.

We don't give out money, except in the rarest of circumstances. We pay vets directly. We give pet food or other needed things as such.

If they need us to help pay for vetting, we use our vets. If they wish to use their vet, they will need to pay.

Retrieving Messages from Your Phone

People may leave messages for TLC on your phone while you are on duty. It is your responsibility to retrieve these messages, because no one else can. We hope you'll be able to respond to them, but if not, you can email them to

Your Journal

Sandra has always recorded her calls in a LARGE notebook.

Things to record for each call:

  1. Date
  2. Person's Name
  3. Phone Number
  4. Email Address
  5. Name of animal(s)
  6. Address/Area of Town
  7. If a vet is required, list the one you believe is needed.
  8. Brief Summary of what is needed
  9. Brief summary of your response.

Finding Fosters

  1. TLC's fosters are limited. Oftentimes the person who found a pet, or who is trying to give it up, can foster it a while longer. This is one of the best alternatives. Or they may have a friend or neighbor who would like to foster the pet.
  2. If they cannot foster the pet:
    1. Don't forget to try the ARK.
      Phone: (256) 851-4088
      Hours: Tuesday - Saturday from 11AM–4PM
      Address: 139 Bo Cole Rd NW, Huntsville, AL 35806
    2. Maybe SNAP??
      Email at
      Phone: 256-539-8163.
    3. It doesn't hurt to put the pet on facebook and ask for a foster. Get a picture. Get a description with all the nice things about the pet. You can post it or our Tech Person can help. Be sure to let Sandra know. She is an old hand at this.

Rehoming Animals

The Adoption Coordinator and the Vet Coordinator will be working on this.

  1. Vetting Animals for Adoption.
    1. If it is fixed --
      It will need to go to a vet for an exam, with worms, fleas, and ear mite check. It should get also shots and hw test (dogs) or combo test (cats).
    2. If it is not fixed --
      It needs all the above plus a spay or neuter. You may want to consider using the spay/neuter clinic. They can do worming, shots and testing at the time it is fixed.
      When funds are short, we may delay the spay/neuter until a potential adopter is found.
  2. Advertise it for adoption. Nesha is currently putting our adoptable animals online for us. She will require picture(s) and a complete description of the animal, not neglecting its good points. Ask the person requesting help for the animal if they are able to write this for us. Have them send it to
    Remember -- Good pictures adopt animals. Bad ones don't.
  3. Off Site Adoptions at Petco. Pet must be vaccinated before it can go to Petco.
  4. The Adoption Fee has been raised to $100.

The Phone Forward Lady

We will have one volunteer who will forward the phone each day to the phone volunteer on duty.
At the end of their shift, she will remove the forward.
She will be responsible for retrieving messages left on the forward phone.
She will need your Phone Schedule.

The Tech Person

Nesha is currently our Tech Person. She posts pets on our website and on our facebook page. From there, she posts them to Petfinder, Adopt-a-pet, and as many as 40 other sites. She requires GOOD pictures and descriptions.

Letting the Rest of Us Know What You Did

We have set up an email address:
that goes to all the phone volunteers as well as Jan, Nancy and Kim Boldin. It also posts the information in a confidential facebook group that only the phone volunteers can access.

We wondered whether you all might be willing to write an email each day you are on phone duty telling us about your calls, so that the next volunteer won't be stumped if one of your "clients" calls back in.