Pet rescue center celebrates six months and approaches 1,000 cats and dogs

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SUNLIGHT – August marked the six-month anniversary of the MoCo Mutts Rescue Center in its new facility here. It was a milestone too.

After receiving 760 cats and dogs in 2020, MoCo Mutts hit 787 in early August and is now quickly approaching the 1,000 mark for 2021.

When MoCoMutts President and Founder Lisa Hill moved from Washington State to Sunbright with her husband Jeff in 2018, they planned to continue their lead kennel and animal rescue. However, with neither Morgan County nor neighboring Scott County having an animal control or rescue facility, Maryland Hill and co-founder Tracy Wyant expanded their mission and began taking in stray and unwanted cats and dogs of all ages.

In 2019, the rescue operation recognized the need for a more permanent and accessible facility and purchased the former Habitat for Humanity building in Sunbright. They started moving to the new facility in February 2021 and the dog house was renamed MoCo Mutts.

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Despite being based in Morgan County, MoCo Mutts says it has given up more and more stray pets and owners from Scott County. Rescue’s proximity to Scott County, with easy access on US Hwy. 27, and heightened awareness has led to an increase in the number of Scott County’s animals. In August, 22 animals were introduced from Scott County.

The increase in Scott County animals has put more of a strain on the rescue center’s limited resources, and its founders have reached out to Scott County officials to discuss financial or logistical assistance.

The center says that increased public awareness had a huge impact on the number of shots. Delivered animals now account for 55% of all admissions, compared to 30% in the previous year. Many owners say they can no longer look after their animals due to job loss, family or health problems, or other difficulties. Covid restrictions made it difficult for some owners to neuter or neuter their pets.

The animal shelter has been looking after an average of 80 dogs and 40 cats every day for several months, with a waiting list for certain animal sizes, as the space in the kennel is limited. In some cases, when owners are told there is a waiting list, they release their nearby animal and it is recorded as a stray animal or an injured animal if hit by a free-roaming vehicle.

The shelter is currently fully occupied with over 100 animals in his care. The current number of animals has forced the facility to offer a curb service only for donations and animal photos. Due to the stressful and annoying environment that results from 80 resting dogs becoming 80 barking dogs, open passageways have been discontinued by potential adoptive parents.

Anyone interested in adopting an animal should contact the rescue operation to apply for adoption.

MoCo Mutts is a non-profit organization that is staffed with volunteers, including their co-founders. The rescue recently hired a part-time worker to do some of the kennel chores to make sure all day-to-day chores are done when there aren’t enough volunteers available, and Hill and Wyant can focus on other chores.

While some animals are locally adopted, the limited availability of spay and neuter services in Morgan and Scott Counties makes it difficult to prepare animals for adoption in a timely manner. So far this year, MoCo Mutts has adopted 16 animals to Morgan or Scott Counties residents and moved 468 animals to shelters outside of the area for later adoption.

Since they are primarily dependent on volunteers, MoCo Mutts is always looking for reliable adults who regularly devote a few hours a week to taking the dogs outside, cleaning the kennels and preparing and filling their food and water bowls. For reasons of insurance law, children under the age of 18 cannot be rescued. There are other ways to get involved with people who are physically unable to handle the animals, such as telephone, fundraising, or fundraising. Anyone who wants to volunteer should contact the rescue team to apply for a volunteer basis. This allows the rescue to match the center’s duties with the wishes and skills of a volunteer.

Community support is another important part of the bailout, and tax-deductible donations are always needed and valued. Several companies in the area are currently fundraising for MoCo Mutts (e.g. Lilly Pad Hopyard Brewery and Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary), and more collection boxes are being prepared for other locations across the county. Frozen Head State Park was planning two events that would request shelter supplies such as pet food and cat litter for the rescue in lieu of an event fee. The Lilly Pad Hopyard Brewery is hosting a MoCo Mutts Day in the brewery on September 18th. They brew a special beer for the event, which also includes an art show, food and music. They will sell a souvenir jar and sticker with the beer, the proceeds of which will go to MoCo Mutts. In October, MoCo Mutts will partner with the Oneida Tractor Supply Company Store pet event, offering animals for adoption and merchandise for sale. Her mascot Muttley will also be there, offering photo opportunities for the kids and his human supervisors will be happy to answer questions, provide information and accept donations during the event.

Donations are always needed as the shelter needs a constant supply of kitten, cat, puppy and dog food (canned and dry), cat litter, paper towels, bleach and detergent. There is also a need for portable kennels in good condition and wire and welded steel kennels to house the animals during the care of the rescue or in transit to their forever homes. MoCo Mutts is currently improving its kennels with easier to clean, healthier and safer kennels for dogs and cats. The rescue has a wish list on Amazon (under the old name Senior Dog Lodge) and is listed on, so a small portion of the money you spend will be returned to the community as a donation to MoCo Mutts.

The rescue is currently looking for a reliable large transporter or shuttle bus to transport animals to partner rescues, which will enable faster adoption of the animals. There is always a need for monetary donations to pay for all non-donated materials, veterinary and medical services, and mortgage and utility payments. The Morgan County Commission has allocated funds in the current budget to support the operation of MoCo Mutts although this amount is only a fraction of the actual annual running costs. Morgan County Executive Brian Langley and several of the Morgan County Commissioners have stated that they will continue to support the shelter and seek additional resources as they become available. The shelter hopes that given the increased assistance provided to Scott County’s animals through the rescue, Scott County can offer assistance as well.

For more information or to volunteer, please contact Lisa Hill or Tracy Wyant at (423) 628-5060.