The mission of Chatham Animal Rescue & Education (CARE) is to promote the health and safety of all dogs and cats in Chatham County, NC. CARE foster caregivers provide loving, stable homes to homeless cats and dogs, helping them become the best possible pets for their future forever families. CARE works with the Chatham County Animal Resources Center to save the lives of unwanted cats and dogs, manages feral cat colonies, and serves as an educational resource. CARE’s Lillie’s Fund is a targeted spay/neuter program, subsidizing sterilization surgeries for pets owned by lower income families in Chatham County. CARE is a nonprofit animal welfare organization that has served the community since 1975 and relies on individual and corporate donors for support.
As a volunteer-based organization, we are completely reliant on the dedication of our wonderful volunteers to support our mission. Won’t you join us?
Board of Directors, 2021
- Virginia Brown, DVM
- Karen Bruschke
- Heather Connors
- Amy Coughlin
- Joan Cunningham
- Rachel Frew, Secretary
- Andrea Norris
- Shelly Ryder
- Rose Verhoeven
- Robin Luker
History and Programs
Chatham Animal Rescue & Education, Inc. was incorporated in 1975 with the name Chatham Humane Society by a group of citizens in Siler City, North Carolina. There was minimal activity until the mid 1980s when Valerie Broadway gathered a group of interested citizens to revitalize the organization.
At the time there were two “dog wardens” who worked under the supervision of the Chatham County Sheriff’s Department. The only shelter for stray and abandoned dogs and cats was a small cinderblock building with a concrete slab and a roof. It was exposed to the elements, no dog houses or bedding were provided, and the building had no electricity or telephone. If you lost or found a pet, it was impossible to know where to look for it or how to return a found pet to its home. Cats were euthanized on arrival. There were no adoptions.
A small core of dedicated Chatham Humane Society volunteers met regularly with county officials lobbying for improvements to the responsiveness of the officers and to the shelter facility. They were successful in getting the animal control program transferred to the Health Department. During this period this small group also provided foster care to a small number of dogs and cats in the county.
In the early nineties, Humane Society members were instrumental in convincing the Board of County Commissioners to establish an Animal Control Advisory Committee to work with the Health Department to standardize protocols and design a new sheltering facility.
The current animal shelter was completed in the mid-nineties and provided space for both cats and dogs and quarantine area for screening animals before putting them up for adoption. Chatham Humane Society developed policies and procedures for the new shelter and provided volunteers as well.
In 2002, Chatham Humane Society changed its name to Chatham Animal Rescue & Education and adopted the acronym CARE. CARE created a website and began expanding its foster programs. Adoptions increased substantially as a result of the increased exposure.
Pet Adoption Events
Beginning in the 2000s, CARE began to partner with PetSmart for dog and cat adoption events, first in Cary and later in Apex, NC. This partnership has resulted in the adoption of hundreds of shelter cats and CARE foster cats. While we weather the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken a pause from our PetSmart presence.
Prior to COVID-19, most dog adoption events were at one of the Phydeaux stores in Cary and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We will resume our in-person adoption events at Phydeaux when it is safe to do so.
In 2005, CARE created Lillie’s Fund, CARE’s targeted spay/neuter assistance program for qualifying Chatham County, NC residents. This program was named for Lillie Cameron who was CARE’s first foster caregiver and who advocated strongly for providing financial assistance to low income residents to spay and neuter their pets. To date, Lillie’s Fund has provided spay/neuter services to thousands of dogs and cats in Chatham County, with more than 500 dogs and cats fixed in 2018.
Thanks to a generous donation from Margaret Petrie in 2014, funds from the annual State Employees Combined Campaign, grants and donations from hundreds of individuals, CARE continues to provide low cost or free spay/neuter vouchers to low income residents for their owned pets and to residents, regardless of income level, who take in and care for stray, abandoned dogs and feral cats until they can be placed in forever homes.
Pet Responsibility Education Program (PREP)
CARE has developed and expanded its education efforts through our Pet Responsibility Education Program (PREP) that targets 4th graders with a comprehensive 6-week program that covers pet owner responsibility as well as animal advocacy. This program has been modified to provide educational opportunities for 4H campers, YMCA after school programs and new homeowners through Habitat for Humanity.
CARE manages a number of fundraising and social events in a variety of venues. For over 10 years CARE has sponsored Yappy Hour, first at the Chatham Marketplace and currently in partnership with Carolina Brewery in Pittsboro. Yappy Hour offers an opportunity for dog owners and their dogs to mix and mingle, enjoy tasty food and beverages in a welcoming atmosphere, and participate in games and competitions.
In the mid-2000s CARE partnered with the General Store Café for a series of Burrito Bashes featuring entertainment, a silent auction and burritos. In 2015, CARE celebrated its 40th birthday with the first showing in North Carolina of the Walker Art Museum’s famous Cat Video Festival. We celebrated at the Pittsboro Roadhouse with dinner, the Cat Video Festival, a cupcake contest and raffles of many wonderful and varied donated items. CARE enjoyed the largest crowd ever hosted at a CARE fundraising event and a grand time was had by all.
From 2001-2011, CARE hosted the Woof-A-Palooza dog walk every September, a tradition that was enjoyed by our adopters, donors, and volunteers alike. In 2019, CARE brought back Woof-A-Palooza, raising more than $40,000. We took a pause from Woof-A-Palooza in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, but are looking forward to making this an annual event every September when it is safe to gather in groups again.
CARE, Chatham County Animal Services and the Chatham County Animal Resources Center
CARE has nurtured a collaborative relationship with Chatham County Animal Services and the Chatham County Animal Resources Center in North Carolina. Since the early-2000s, CARE has hosted Chatham County Animal Resources Center cats at PetSmart, resulting in hundreds of shelter cats being adopted. Both CARE dog and cat foster caregivers obtain a majority of the animals in foster care from the shelter and CARE volunteers help transport shelter pets when necessary.