HSCCL history stretches back 28 years
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
TOOL–With the Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake is reaching
another milestone in its long story of service, The Monitor
thought it was time to visit its beginnings in honor of the
countless hours contributed by volunteers over the years to this
worthy and much-needed organization.
With help from a clipping file kept by Toni Muirhead – an
original member of the Humane Society – this review covers their
efforts from its inception in 1983 to 1988.
Twenty-eight years ago, eight women formally organized the
Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake at a meeting in the Tool
Civic Center. Thirty-two other concerned lake-area citizens were
“There was an overwhelming sense of commitment from those people
present,” spokeswoman Joan Dare said.
That night, two committees were formed and respective chairmen
chosen. Heading the publicity committee was Sue Logan. Serving
with her were Marilyn Larson, Diane Allison, Glenda Harley and
Tiffany Monk, assistant manager of the Humane Society of Cedar
Creek Lake, looks over the office space that is almost complete.
The space needs another $40,000 to finish the office and laundry
The hotline committee included Muirhead, Allison and Joni Baugus.
Sammie King made the first monetary donation of $500, and two
acres of land on Highway 85 at ABC Roof Trusses were offered for
an animal shelter and general society use.
Among the many items discussed was a spaying and neutering
program for the area with all area veterinarians to cooperate.
March 17, 1983, a board of directors was selected – Kaye Kiehl,
Diane Allison, Gregg Smith, R.J. Johnson, Beth Heaton, Barbara
Walker, Nancy Massingill, Janice Roberts, Dare, Muirhead and
Ruth Woods – led by president Baugus. Smith was the first
Donations were solicited and a booth at the Gun Barrel Flea
Market was donated for the society’s use. The society met twice
a month to get things rolling.
In September of its first year, the Society asked Gun Barrel
City to enter into a contract with the shelter, according to a
newspaper article. All 11 towns around the lake were to be asked
Society spokeswomen also asked the cities to pass animal control
ordinances, fine offenders and license dogs to help pay for the
cost of service.
John Muirhead asked for $400 a month from Gun Barrel City. Bobby
Gene Autry was mayor at the time, and pointed out the city was
in a real fix, financially, having recently received $72,000
less in sales tax revenue than the year before.
In July, a door-to-door fund-raising drive took place.
Members of the society investigated reports of animal cruelty
with the assistance of police, located and oversaw the return of
lost pets, advocated on behalf of building a shelter and
publicized donations from POAs, businesses and individuals.
Funds were also raised through bake sales, raffles, garage
sales, a July 4 carnival, art exhibits, circus tickets and
Funds dribbled in – $100 and $200 at a time. A published list of
contributors in September, 1983, included 110 contributors with
B&R Enterprises of Gun Barrel City offering a $1,000 match.
One of the biggest and earliest supporters of the Society was
Sammie King of Roddy. She donated a full-size van and more than
$8,000 within the first two years.
According to a monthly newspaper column submitted by the
Society, within its first three months, the Society was
successful in placing more than 60 animals, including a goat.
But by this time, it was so overwhelmed with calls to pick up
stray animals it had to start turning calls away, and received
The column also reported on their activities, challenges and
heart-breaking stories of animal cruelty and members’ attempts
to mitigate the needless suffering. It also dispensed
information on rabies control and vaccinations, raffles for free
spay or neutering services and many thanks for much-needed
ongoing financial support.
Until a shelter could be built or renovated, members kept
animals in their homes. Also, foster homes were used, with the
Society supplying needed pet food.
Labor Day weekend, 1985, the Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake
opened its doors for the first time at its present location on
Flagg Lake Road, and held a ribbon cutting shortly afterwards
with then-president and builder Charles Kenkman and animal
control officer Nancy Massingill doing the honors.
Kenkman went on to gain a certification in animal control
officer administration. It was open three hours a day six days a
week. Animals stayed there for 10 days before being eligible for
adoption, so lost owners could claim their lost pets. An
adoption fee of $10 was charged.
Leaving an animal cost $5 to $1, depending on the size and type
of animal. The first day, cars were lined up to the highway to
deposit their stray and unwanted animals.
The Shelter encouraged pet owners to make use of veterinarian
services from the various practitioners in the area.
“If each person would have their pets spayed or neutered there
would be no need for a Humane Society,” Toni Muirhead wrote in a
July 13, 1986, article.
The first shelter included a newly dug well to provide water to
Weeks after opening, John Muirhead asked Henderson County
Commissioners to set aside $40,000 in its 1986 budget for the
Also in 1986, the Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake received a
favorable evaluation from the state, judging it one of the
“cleanest shelters in the state.”
That same year, the shelter obtained service contracts from Gun
Barrel City, Malakoff and Trinidad, as well as several property
owners’ associations. A billboard was also constructed along
State Highway 274 advertising the shelter.
Funds were raised through a swim-a-thon organized by a local
citizen. Also that year, construction began on a quarantine
building and a program began to provide free pets to senior
citizens. More than 300 animals were placed and lost pets
returned to owners.
The eight-mile swim-a-thon was the brainchild of bone cancer
victim Toni Crosby, 25, in 1985.
She was an avid supporter and volunteer for the Society and left
an example of courage and responsibility toward defenseless
animals. She had recently learned to swim underwater and was in
remission at the time.
“We’ve got to give it all it’s worth for as long as we can.
You’ve got to try and just carry on,” the young mother said.
Crosby successfully completed her swim from Don’s Port to
Chamber Isle, under “the worst” lake conditions and raised
$3,000 in the effort.
By 1986, the Society became an agent for the Friends of the
Animals and also made the painful decision to begin the practice
“(We) had hoped that by now, others would see the need and come
forth to help. Because of lack of funds and lack of volunteers
to care for the animals, we had to make this painful decision,”
Muirhead wrote in the Society’s regular newspaper column July
In 1987, two volunteers began taking puppies to the Mabank
Nursing Home twice a month for visits with the residents there.
A newspaper article titled “Puppy Love” showed a photo of a
woman’s joyous smile as a puppy “kissed” her neck.
Solicitation of funds, supplies, volunteers and homes for
abandoned animals have been common themes throughout the
Shelter’s lifetime, including dog shows at Promenade Hall,
talent shows, wrestling matches, folk dances, auctions, raffles,
garage sales and parades.
On May 1, 1988, the Shelter added a petting zoo, as an
attraction for families to visit and hopefully take home a new
pet. It included a llama, exotic parrots, an emu, turkeys,
goats, rabbits, ponies, donkeys and an assortment of fowl.
Organizations regularly supporting the Society’s efforts
included the VFW Post 4376, Safeway in Athens, David’s in Seven
Points, the Optimist Club, United Telephone, Elks Lodge 2702 and
Today, the Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake is still in need
of the support of volunteers, donations, foster homes, needed
supplies and forever homes for its abundant population of
Its service to the lake community is beyond value, as it lessens
the spread of animal diseases, provides a place to get stray
animals off the streets – which otherwise would present a danger
to local communities – and expresses human kindness to
defenseless animals, lost and abused through no fault of their
The board members of the Society hope the reader will remember
its many needs with donations, time and prayers.