The new director of the Carthage Humane Society said she prefers to be called “the director of the new Carthage Humane Society.”
Deborah Bell, a transplant from St. Louis, said she's made wholesale changes in the animal shelter south of Carthage since she tool over in August 2017.
And those changes need to be taken into consideration when entities like the Jasper County Commissioners consider whether to fund the shelter and its important mission.

Big changes
Bell said the changes include a new staff with a new emphasis on the health and happiness of the animals in their care.
“It is completely changed in attitude,” Bell told the Kiwanis Club on Wednesday, Jan. 10. “ Where does that happen? We have a dedicated staff. The new Carthage Humane Society is literally that, everybody that works there is brand new, there is nobody that's been there more than four months. One of the things I tell people when I hire them is you will not get rich in working here, but your soul will be rich when you go to sleep at night because you will know you made a difference in a furry soul.”
Bell said her first priority when she took over was to correct the problems that brought about the change in management, including underfed animals and expired medications.
“I've heard of some of the past situations and I have a strong belief, people don't care what you tell them, they want to see it,” Bell said. “They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care, so I want to show them there are no more ribs. The only ribs showing in the Carthage Humane Society are the ribs I brought from dinner to let the dogs chew on a little bit. There are no skinny dogs, nothing like that, everyone is being taken care of to the maximum that they possibly can.”
Bell said her daughter, who manages the Banfield Animal Hospital at the Petsmart store in Joplin, is working with a new veterinarian to improve the medical care of the animals at the shelter.
“I've got the bills down a lot, we've got our trash costs down because we are a no-kill shelter we don't have to have animals taken out in our trash and that brought our bill down by almost half,” Bell said. “Our vets, we have a medical advisor, she's my daughter, she's got our medical costs down much lower by negotiating with vet tech places that are providing medicine.”

See the changes
Bell said she's posting to the Carthage Humane Society Facebook page every day, including pictures of animals that are adopted and their new families.
The Humane Society's ribbon-cutting and grand re-opening was originally scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 13, but that was rescheduled to Saturday, Jan. 20 because of the potential for bad weather.
Doors open at 11 a.m. and the ribbon cutting ceremony starts at 11:45 a.m. with a flag raising by the Carthage Fire Department.
“I invite you, if you haven't, to join the Carthage Humane Society Facebook page and see some of the success stories of dogs that have adopted people and people that have adopted cats and vice versa, and you'll see some of the happy endings that are going on,” Bell said. “We will have Gussie's Kitty Haven open, it's free-range cats, they run around during the day, do whatever they want, and at night they go back into their designated areas because it's important to know if there's ever a health issue we can tell which kennel has the residue of that problem in the kennel.”

One Humane Society or two?
The question of whether Jasper County needs one Humane Society or two came up earlier this month when the County Commissioners decided not to send $8,000 to the Carthage Humane Society in its 2018 annual budget.
Bell said she's talked with officials at the Joplin Humane Society and they say they would need to find a lot of money to expand their facility if the Carthage Humane Society were to close and they had to take on the animals that go through the Carthage shelter.
Lysa Boston, director of the Joplin Humane Society, said there's no way her organization by itself could handle the number of animals that come in to the two Humane Societies every day.
“Definitely not,” Boston said. “When you consider that aside from Joplin, we take in animals from Newton County and other surrounding areas as well, I can't imagine if we had to take in even more animals. We'd have to expand and I don't know where the money will come from.”
Boston said people often don't understand how great the need is for animal shelter services until they get into the business.
“Some days we've taken in 50 animals in a day,” Boston said. “The need is great in this area, probably greater than even two shelters can handle.”
Bell said she's confident that county officials will reconsider their decision.
“It's one of those things that we just need to have as much donations as we can to keep things going and I really feel that the situation will change,” Bell said. “I feel once there is an awareness by our commissioners, they will realize that this needs to be put back in the budget. I'm confident in our leadership. Plus I'm also confident that the people's opinions matter and I know that they've been very verbal and it's been fairly unanimous that they want this put back into the budget.”