WASHINGTON – Shelby County has been recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.
NACo recognized the Bob Sargeant & Family Shelby County Animal Shelter for their innovative program “Tails with Tales.” Tales with Tails was created to provide outreach for the Shelby County Animal Shelter to potential adoptive families for the pets, and to address social isolation of children in the community during COVID.
The shelter staff were intent on maintaining their record of high adoption rates and knew that new and creative outreach to the community was needed. The program was developed rather quickly once the need and solution were determined with the Facebook Live program being worked out in several weeks.
Tales with Tails combines reading an animal-related book to the audience along with featuring one of the shelter’s adoptable pets or the shelter mascot, a cat named Batman. The program launched in February 2021 and has been a weekly occurrence since then with stories being told each Thursday evening. Tales with Tails reaches out to the 8,500-plus Facebook followers of the Shelby County Animal Shelter.
In addition to shelter staff being readers for this story-time, local volunteers, librarians and veterinarians totaling eleven different guests have taken a turn at reading a book for Tales with Tails. The program does not cost the county anything but the time involved by the shelter staff and volunteers. Many of the books read during the program have been borrowed from the county’s libraries.
“Tales with Tails is worthy of receiving a NACo Achievement Award for several reasons. The Shelby County Animal Shelter employees took a tough situation with COVID and turned it into a positive weekly program for the community,” said Commissioner Julie Ehemann. “Not only did the staff maintain adoption rates of the shelter pets, they have created a whole new audience of children that will be more likely to value and be kind to animals.The program should be recognized for its simplicity and ability to be mimicked by counties elsewhere that lack access to a lot of funds or other resources.”
NACo President Larry Johnson said, “All across the country, counties are working tirelessly to support residents and drive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s Achievement Award-winning programs showcase how counties work every day to build healthy, safe and thriving communities.”
Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice and public safety, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and many more.
Started in 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Awards program is designed to recognize county government innovations. Each nominee is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received.