McKamey Animal Center

Exploring The World of Animal Shelters: An Inside Look At McKamey Animal Center

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An interview with McKamey Animal Center from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Introducing Lauren Mann from McKamey Animal Center

My name is Lauren Mann, and I am the Director of Advancement at McKamey Animal Center. I started working in animal welfare seven years ago, but have always been an avid animal lover. I work in this realm of the nonprofit world as this is where my heart lies, and I have dedicated my educational and professional endeavors towards raising funds for those who need it most.

How did McKamey Animal Center Start? What Are The Challenges Encountered Along The Way?

McKamey Animal Center (MAC) opened its doors in 2008 with the mission of Saving Animals, Helping People. MAC’s vision is to eliminate animal overpopulation, cruelty, and neglect by creating a culture of compassionate care, community engagement, and advocacy for animals by providing programs and education that support people and companion animals.

McKamey Animal Center (MAC)

Tell Us About The Most “Unusual” Animal That McKamey Animal Center Has Ever Taken.

This is a fun question! Our shelter has taken in everything from horses, to dogs and cats, rabbits, hedge hogs, tarantulas, snakes, guinea pigs, rats and mice, turkeys, chickens/roosters, tortoises, and so many others! 

I would say the first story that comes to mind was a large tortoise that was found roaming around a neighborhood as a stray! Our officers picked her up and brought her back to MAC. It wasn’t long after that her owner came forward and reclaimed her. She has been his pet since he was 17 years old and had dug a hole through their backyard—just like a dog would!

The Large Tortoise of McKamey Animal Center (MAC)

Tell Us More About The Most Unique And Creative Fundraising Campaigns McKamey Animal Center Has Done

We host lots of events throughout the year to support our fundraising efforts. My favorite, has to be our Doggy Pool Paw-ty!

Doggy Pool Paw-ty

We take over one of the community pools in town at the end of summer, just before they close it down for winter.

Doggy Pool Paw-ty

Dogs from the community are invited to come splash around and enjoy the final days of summer! It’s such a fun event, and loved by the community.

Doggy Pool Paw-ty

Tell Us More About The Most Rewarding Part Of Running An Animal Shelter

Being part of the leadership team is so rewarding! Last year we sheltered nearly 5,000 animals. Knowing that I am helping to make a difference in the lives of thousands of pets and peoples’ lives is truly rewarding. Without our shelter, many would not receive the help they need.

What Do You Think Might Be The Greatest Challenge Of Running McKamey Animal Center?

The greatest challenge of running a shelter is trying to explain and educate people that we are here to help them and should not be seen as the enemy in the community.

Tell Us More About The Volunteers In McKamey Animal Center

I don’t think I could pick just one individual. We have SO many wonderful, dedicated volunteers who go above and beyond for the animals at our shelter.

MAC Volunteer

Where Do Most Of The Animals In McKamey Animal Center Come From, And What Is The Process For Rescuing And Rehabilitating Them?

Most of our animals come to us as strays, sadly. As they enter into our care, they are listed online in hopes that their owners will come forward to reclaim them. If they do not after a certain period of time has passed, they are moved into our sheltering system and ultimately made available for adoption! Of course, if there is an animal in need of immediate medical attention, they will be seen by our veterinary team ASAP. Every animal adopted from us is up to date on age-appropriate vaccines, parasite prevention, microchipped, has been spayed or neutered, and tested for heartworms (dogs only) before going home.

What Are The Busiest Periods And How Does McKamey Animal Center Cope?

The spring and summer time are our two busiest times of the year. In the spring, we hold our breath as kitten season starts. Last year, we took in over 1,000 kittens under 8 weeks of age – many of whom were orphaned. In the summertime, we tend to always see a spike in dog intake. Our staff and volunteers do everything they can to plan for these periods of time throughout the year with special programs, marketing efforts, activities, etc. It definitely takes a village to care for everyone, and we are so grateful for all of our fosters, volunteers and dedicated staff members.

What Animals Does McKamey Animal Center Focus On?

In 2023, MAC decided to stop guessing the breeds of the dogs in our care. Without a proper DNA test, there is no way to 100% confirm a breed of a dog (unless they come with papers, etc.). As many other shelters have had success with this, we hope that by eliminating breed labels, we will also decrease the harmful stereotypes and misinformation that come with them sometimes!

Working With The Local Community

We love our community partners! Other organizations, businesses and agencies help to support our Center in a variety of ways. Whether it’s dropping off donations, supplies, participating in events, or advocating for our mission, we couldn’t do it without them.

Tell Us More About Your Events

We have a few different upcoming events that all are welcome to participate in! 

The MAC Gala – Get ready to get groovy! You’re invited to one of Chattanooga’s best events of the year, the annual MAC Gala! Join us on April 14th for an evening celebrating the life-saving work of MAC! Enjoy a fun filled evening under the disco ball complete with a Silent and Live auction, cuddly puppies and kittens in the Snuggle Lounge, dinner, drinks, and more!  For more information and to purchase tickets: 

MAC Gala

Paw Palooza 2023 – Join McKamey Animal Center on Saturday, June 10, 2023 from 10 AM to 4 PM as we take over Coolidge Park for the second annual Paw Palooza! Paw Palooza will host vendors, food trucks, dog games, and more in celebration of pet lovers throughout our city! Your support will help MAC care for nearly 5,000 dogs and cats this year by protecting them, providing shelter, care and love.  For more information and to register: 

Paw Palooza

Folx are always welcome and encouraged to make donations to support our life-saving mission. For a full list of ways to give, please visit: 

What Is Done Differently at McKamey Animal Center?

Two programs come to mind! Our Trailblazers program is probably my favorite thing we offer to the public! Essentially you can ‘borrow’ a shelter dog for the day and take them out to lunch with you, on a walk/hike, and around town! It is absolutely free to participate in. We will set you up with a pack full of treats, poo bags, an ‘adopt me’ leash, bandana, and harness and send you out on your way. At the end of the day, you bring the pup back and tell us about your outing. We get to learn more about the dog outside of the stressful shelter environment, they get a much deserved day out, and you get to have fun! This program has helped increase our adoptions as well! The other program is called K9 to 5, and is essentially the same as Trailblazers, but you get to take them to your pet-friendly office instead!



K9 to 5: 

How Has McKamey Animal Center Adapted To The Challenges Presented By The Pandemic?

The pandemic definitely effected our shelter sadly. We had to switch the way we were operating with the public temporarily, limit who was in and out of the building and put all of our events and programs on ‘pause’. Since then, we have mostly returned to ‘normal’ operations. Additionally, we have been hit with the effects of the National Sheltering Crisis – like most other shelters in the South, we are extremely overcrowded. We are typically operating at 200% of our humane capacity. We do everything we can to care for the animals here of course, and are trying to work with the public to continue education, spaying/neutering efforts, etc. We are taking this crisis day by day until we can overcome it.

Share With Us Some Of The Heartwarming Stories Of Animals Rehabilitated And Rehomed By McKamey Animal Center.

There are so many beautiful stories I have seen come to life! 

The most recent one – our longest resident, Denali, was adopted! After 415 days, sweet Denali found himself a new home at one of our off-site events with one of our community partners! We are so, so happy to see him go home with a new loving family! Denali originally came to us as a stray, positive with heartworms and some behavior challenges. During his time with us, he was treated for heartworms and learned positive behaviors. Now, he is living his best life in his new loving home!

Denali & Dad

Another that comes to mind, is a sweet pup named Bentley. He came to MAC in February 2022 after being shot. We sadly had to amputate his leg, but that never stopped him. Once he was ready to find a new adoptive family, it didn’t take long! His scraggly fuzzy face and sweet demeanor was an easy sell! But, the most magical thing to possibly happen for him, did! His new mom, is also an amputee (same side!). She walked in to just look, and when they met – that was it! They were new best friends, and she knew they needed each other. As they were leaving the Center, she told him they weren’t handi-capped, they were handi-capable and were going to have the best life together. It still makes us all emotional! We heard from them recently, and he is still loving life with them!

Bentley after Amputation Surgery

What Are The Help Needed From The Local Community?

We are always in need of volunteers, fosters, adopters, and advocates. Additionally, monetary and supply donations help us to keep our doors open each and every day, helping nearly 5,000 animals annually. 

Connect With McKamey Animal Center here:

Address: 4500 N. Access Rd. Chattanooga, TN 37415.

Phone: (423) 305-6500

Website: is thankful to McKamey Animal Center for the interview. 

Check out this page for the list of animal shelters in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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