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“Paws to Read” starts March 2 in Franklin County

Published in the Winchester Herald Chronicle, January 23, 2018 (p. 10A)

Animal Harbor, in partnership with the Franklin County Library, is proud to announce a new reading program in Franklin County. Paws to Read will be launched on March 2, in collaboration with Read across America Day.

Animal Harbor’s Director of Development, Stephanie Wilson explains, “It might be impossible for any one person to adopt every pet in need of a good home, but our youngest harbor helpers can do the next best thing. Children ages 2 through 18 who are able to read at any level are invited to the shelter to read to our adoptable cats and dogs in our adoption rooms.”

The program is intended to help children improve their reading skills, help socialize adoptable pets, and develop stronger human-animal bonds for both animals and people.

It’s easy to get involved. Simply visit the Franklin County Library and choose a book. The library will then extend a certificate on behalf of Wendy’s. After reading to an animal at Animal Harbor, return your book to the library and get your certificate stamped. Collect four stamps and then enjoy a free frosty treat from the Winchester Wendy’s.

“Come to the shelter and read,” Stephanie said. “Our adoptable cats and dogs are great listeners!”

The Paws to Read program is open every Saturday from 2-4 p.m. at Animal Harbor beginning on March 3. Large groups or clubs interested in participating in Paws to Read may call the shelter directly to set up an alternate time at 931-962-4472.

The Paws to Read program was implemented by Wilson as well as Robin Mays, Youth Service Director at Franklin County Library. Please contact Wilson with any questions at 352-870-4830 or email

More about Paws to Read

Recent studies performed by research teams at U.C. Davis and Tufts University reveal dog-gone great news: Children who read aloud to therapy dogs or shelter cats on a regular basis demonstrate drastic improvement in their reading skills. Animals provide a safe, non-judgmental presence for struggling readers. Sharing books with furry supporters helps children to:
• Sustain concentration and focus
• Maintain a higher level of awareness
• Improve attitudes toward school
• Increase reading comprehension and fluency
• Expand their use of vocabulary and language
• Boost confidence and pride in their reading skills
• Cultivate a higher motivation for reading and learning
• Foster positive social interactions
• Feel more comfortable about learning
• Enjoy the experience of reading

Oh, and the animals enjoy it, too. and ‘Paws to Read Month’ were created to connect parents educators, animal lovers, and child advocates to city, regional, state, and national programs that use shelter cats or trained therapy dogs to improve the literacy skills of children. Paws to Read also provides tips, activities, and recommended reading lists to help schools and libraries celebrate ‘Paws to Read Month’ in March and all year long.

Posted 2 weeks ago

January 17, 2018

Animal Harbor has received a grant from the Bissell Pet Foundation for our Low-Income Spay/Neuter program. The Foundation has given Animal Harbor a wonderful opportunity to make 2018 a year that will improve the lives of companion animals and the lives of the citizens of Franklin County.

The ability to spay or neuter approximately 110 to 125 additional cats and dogs through our program will prevent the birth of hundreds of puppies and kittens that in turn could produce hundreds of litters over the next decade. Spayed and neutered pets are healthier, and the surrounding neighborhoods have fewer stray and abandoned animals living lives of starvation and illness.

We at Animal Harbor thank Bissell for their continuing generosity and dedication to improving the lives of pets all across the United States, and for helping us fulfill our motto: Saving Lives, Four Paws at a Time!

For more information about our Low-Income Spay/Neuter Program, click here.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Party for Paws Honors Local Harbor Heroes

The Fall Party for Paws, held on November 11th, 2017, hosted a standout crowd of animal lovers. The silent auction saw items flying off the tables, and the food by Old Mill Manor Caterers proved to be a culinary experience that left everyone wanting more. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Jean Patton Humanitarian Award to Joseph Sumpter, and the recognition of Sue Hartman, Dianna Ogden, and Charley Watkins as Harbor Heroes. All of these kind people, each in their own way gave time, money, or special skills to help the mission of Animal Harbor. Our quest to treat and find loving homes for abandoned companion animals, reduce pet overpopulation, and prevent cruelty to animals while providing community education on animal welfare can succeed only when many people join hands in the effort. Thank you Joseph, Sue, Dianna, and Charley.


Left to right: Charley Watkins, Dianna Ogden, and Joseph Sumpter. Not pictured: Sue Hartman.

Posted 10 weeks ago

New Director of Development at Animal Harbor

Stephanie Wilson has been selected as Animal Harbor’s new Director of Development. Wilson is a native of New Hampshire, but grew up in Florida and most recently lived in the Atlanta, Georgia area before relocating to Winchester in May 2017 with her husband, Cliff who is the chief operating officer at Southern Tennessee Regional Health System.  

Wilson comes from an extensive background that includes over 15 years working in both corporate and small business management, business development, and event planning. She has also worked with Main Street programs, welcome centers, and the Chamber of Commerce as a fundraiser and event planner/coordinator in areas where she has previously resided.

Possessing a passion for everything she does, Willson says she gets the most enjoyment from being an active member of a vibrant community.“I immediately fell in love with Animal Harbor after spending some time at the shelter and meeting the dedicated people that make it such a great organization. I am honored to have this opportunity to work with Animal Harbor and represent the outstanding work it does within Franklin County,” she said.

Stephanie has three daughters and a stepson whom she says keep her young at heart. She enjoys traveling, lake life, shopping, and supporting the local community. 

Posted 11 weeks ago

2018 Rescue Me Calendar Available

Story reprinted from the Herald Chronicle, Friday, October 27, 2017


Text from the article:

Man’s best friend will forever be those furry little creatures eagerly waiting to greet us every day in hopes of making our day better.

It’s a sad fact, but not every dog or cat has a person to greet. It’s our turn to help these homeless pets by donating $12 for a 2018 “Rescue Me Calendar” featuring beautiful, colorful photos of local rescue organizations with adopt- able pets. Photos were taken by photographer Charlie Watkins.

All proceeds from the calendar will help Animal Harbor feed and care for their deserving homeless pets until they can be adopted. Animal Harbor is a 501c3 no-kill shelter run by the Franklin County Humane Society and any donation is tax deductible. To learn more, go to or call the shelter at 931-962-4472. The shelter is located at 56 Nor-Nan Road in Winchester. Shelter hours are Tuesday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Animal Harbor has been connecting hearts for over 14 years. Please help them continue their mission by purchasing a 2018 calendar today. By buying a calendar, you can help support an animal for just $1 per month.

Featured photos on the calendar include: Life Force, Franklin County Animal Control, Franklin County Sheriff’s Dept., Cowan Fire Dept., Southern Tennessee Regional Health System, Sewanee Fire and Rescue, Franklin County Swimplex lifeguards, Tims Ford State Park Wildlife Services, Decherd Fire Dept., Franklin County Rescue, Winchester Fire and Rescue and Animal Harbor’s staff.

Calendar Locations: Pick up your calendar today at the following locations: 

• Franklin Farmers Co-op 

• Animal Harbor 

• Animal Care Center 

• Midtown Veterinary Clinic 

• Town and Country Veterinary Clinic 

• Heath Automotive • Winchester City Swimplex 

• Bubbles and Bows 

• Wags and Wiggles 

• Lakeside Veterinary Clinic 

• The University of the South Bookstore

Posted 15 weeks ago

First Pool “Paw-ty” Was A Big Bow-Wow Splash

Story reprinted from the Winchester Herald Chronicle Sept 15, 2017

Written by Assistant Editor Linda Stacy

It’s a first for this area, but if the furry pals in attendance at a recent unconventional pool party have anything to say about the event, it certainly won’t be the last. About 25 dogs and their people participated in a pool “paw-ty” for dogs held at Tims Ford State Park’s swimming pool last Saturday. The event raised a little over $400 to help support Franklin County’s Animal Harbor shelter.

Despite the fact that no swim suits were required for this pool party there were no covetous fights to break up between furry friends. And no water rescues were involved, even though some dogs were more dauntless than others. Phyllis Larson, Animal Harbor treasurer, reports: “We had one black lab that loved the diving board and tried encouraging her new friends to join her. The weather was fabulous, and the owners were having as much fun as their canine children.” A couple of puppies came so their owners could teach them to swim. Sally was the only adoptable dog in attendance from the shelter. “Hopefully, next year we’ll be able to bring more of our shelter dogs,” Larson said.

Splashing and having a ball in the pool was a family and their pets who had just evacuated from Hurricane Irma and were staying at the park and wanted to take part in the fun. Larson said of the family and their pets, “Their fun was much deserved, considering the stress of having to leave their home.” Organizers are grateful to those who participated at this first of what is expected to become an annual end-of-summer fundraiser for Animal Harbor. “We are very pleased with the turnout and very excited to build on the success for next year,” Larson said. “A huge thank you to Rangers Sean Vinson and Stacie Rains for their support and for allowing us to have the event at Tims Ford State Park pool. This could not have happened without their support.” Animal Harbor staff also expressed appreciation for the help provided by Sheila Partin and Samantha Lusk who handled canine control and for the two lifeguards, Michael Cortazzo and Meghan Mulhern. “All in all it was a great day and we hope more dogs will join us next year!” Larson said.

Animal Harbor’s first “Pool Paw-ty” fundraiser was a definite hit for dogs and owners alike last weekend at Tims Ford State Park. All skill levels had a blast, from those who preferred relaxing in the kiddie pool to the showoff who just couldn’t get in enough dives off the diving board. A little over $400 was raised to help Animal Harbor provide for homeless pets.

Photos by Linda Winn.

Posted 22 weeks ago

Bone Drop Winners Share a Big Win

When Animal Harbor Vice-President Cecelia Brodioi placed a call to Lucy Hill and told her that she and Rhonda Tawwater had won the $5,000 Bone Drop prize, they couldn’t believe it. The two friends who had shared the cost of a ticket were on a shopping trip to Huntsville, and were so excited that they turned right around and headed back to Winchester. All of us at Animal Harbor want to thank each and every one of you who bought a ticket. Taking a chance on the Bone Drop means that many more animals will have a chance at a good life in a loving home.
Below are Rhonda Tawwater, left, and Lucy Hill, right. With them are Susan Rupert, Animal Harbor President, second from left, and Cecelia Brodioi, Vice President, third from left. 

Posted 22 weeks ago

​Animal Harbor Presents Awards at the Fall Party for Paws

Sewanee, TN, Nov. 19, 2016 -  Area ​animal lovers ​came together on Saturday, November 19th t​o​ attend ​Animal Harbor’s ​Annual Party for  Paws​ ​fundraising event at​ ​Otey Parish Hall in Sewanee.  Cat and dog lovers alike ​shared food​ and ​friendship while bidding on silent auction items that raise​d​ money for​ the​ ongoing care of​ animals at ​the shelter. Susan Walton ​set a festive mood with her piano selections, and Barbara Bull volunteered as auctioneer for the​ live auction​ event.​  Everyone present was full of enthusiasm, good will, and a desire to see the mission and work of the Harbor ​continue in 2017, which will​ ​mark fourteen years of rescues and adoptions. ​

Every year the Harbor awards volunteers who have given of their time and energy to work for the animals​.​ The Volunteer of the Year for 2015​, Anna Marie Goodwin from Winchester, is​ ​now ​a student at Middle Tennessee State University studying Animal Science with a specialty in horses.  Anna Marie said that she enjoyed every minute​ of​​ ​seeing cats, dogs, the occasional rabbit, and even two pot-bellied pigs ​find their forever home​s​.​


Susan Rupert, President of Animal Harbor, with Anna Marie Goodwin. (Award was presented earlier this year.)

Barbara Hart and Megan Griffth, a grandmother/grandaughter​ duo from Sewanee​,​ shared the​ limelight as Volunteers of the Year for 2016.  Barbara can be seen every Saturday morning at the shelter, sporting unique earrings, ​taking on any task needed, and sharing with ​Megan ​the importance of kindness​ and ​empathy​,​​ ​and ​​of rewards​​,​​ ​paid ​not in wages and perks, but in ​wags and purrs​.​​


The Jeane Patton Humanitarian Award for 2016 was given to Jarod Pearson of Cowan.  This award was established in 2003 in honor of Ms. Jean Patton, who provided initial support for the creation of Animal Harbor, and is presented each year to one or more persons who have made a significant contribution towards reducing pet overpopulation and improving the lives of companion animals in Franklin County.  Over the past several years, Jarod has paid for vaccinations, medical treatment, food, and most importantly, the spaying and neutering of​ countless​ cats who have, as he sa​id​, “chosen him” as their advocate and protector.  Jarod exemplifies what one person​ ​can do to make a lasting difference​, ​​one animal at a time.


Remember to join the Party for Paws next November and “Be a Harbor Hero” to the animals of Franklin County.  

Posted 62 weeks ago

2016 Bone Drop Winner Announced

The lucky winner of Animal Harbor’s 4th Annual Bone Drop on August 6 was Nita Penland of Winchester.  Nita won the $5,000 prize after her “bone” landed closest to the bullseye when dropped from a bucket truck. The bones were about one ounce each and were in plastic packets.

“Nita was in such shock when we called to tell her she had won, that we had to repeat it twice, and explain what we were talking about!” said Caitlyn Barstad, development officer of the non-profit organization. Nita had purchased a $100 bone for the event on impulse at the last minute, her bone being number 140 out of 150 bones sold. When she came to pick up her winnings, Nita declared that she had never won anything before other than a 4th grade hula hoop contest! She was very excited and did not have specific plans for what to do with the money. She said she would most likely take a vacation and possibly donate the rest of the winnings to charity, including Animal Harbor! Nita said she has never adopted an animal directly from Animal Harbor, but she and her husband are avid animal lovers and have visited the shelter frequently.

The Bone Drop raised $10,000 to go toward operating expenses for the Animal Harbor shelter, including care of the nearly 60 pets that Animal Harbor houses at any one time. Pets at Animal Harbor receive vaccinations and other needed medical attention and are spayed or neutered and microchipped before adoption. 

“Animal Harbor is grateful to all of the businesses and individuals who purchased a bone,” Barstad said. “We also thank Duck River Electric Membership Corporation for providing the bucket truck and operators.” DREMC employee Bryan Burton dropped the bones from the raised bucket, and Patrick Hannah operated the truck. 

“Because of the amazing support of this community, Animal Harbor continues to house homeless animals and prepare them for adoption,” Barstad said. So far this year, Animal Harbor has taken in over 260 pets and placed them in new homes or sent them to adoption partner shelters in other states. The organization has also worked with many young people in the community to teach them about animal care and welfare.


Pictured at Animal Harbor, left to right: Caitlyn Barstad, Animal Harbor Development Officer; Nita Penland, Bone Drop Winner; Susan Rupert, Animal Harbor President; and Phyllis Larson, Animal Harbor Treasurer.


Left to right: Bryan Burton, Duck River Electric Membership Corporation; Caitlyn Barstad, Animal Harbor Development Officer; ​Patrick Hannah, DREMC.

Posted 79 weeks ago

Animal Harbor is honored to have received a $5,000 grant from the Petco Foundation to help extend our efforts and serve the Petco Foundation’s mission to raise the quality of life for pets and the people who love and need them.  This grant will be used to subsidize the spay or neuter of 100 pets belonging to low-income families in Franklin County.

Posted 82 weeks ago