“Linda Parnes was here from the inception,” EVHS Director Bryan Canty said. “She was literally in the trenches at the beginning. She operated out of a small area behind Bartow County Animal Control and as animals would come in, in some cases, she would literally cold-call people to make them aware of animals that were being brought in just to try to find them homes.
“Linda, having the big heart that she had, a lot of those animals took up residence in her home because she just couldn’t stand the notion of the animals being put down. More so than talking the talk, she walked the walk and I often refer to her as the heart and soul of EVHS. If I had to sum up the impact she had in Bartow County, she was simply the best friend a homeless pet in Bartow County ever had.”
In 2011, Parnes complimented the quality of animals housed at the shelter and their ability to enhance a future pet owner’s life.
“We have the most beautiful animals in the state of Georgia and we have way too many. They have so many gifts to share with families,” Parnes previously told The Daily Tribune News. “They would absolutely be the best thing that you could do for your family for Christmas or at any other time of the year. They just give back so much. ... Our animals here are so beautiful and we have so little time with them. We get so many in and, of course, incoming animals go to Animal Control and then they come over to us ... for adoption.
“But if we’re full, I can’t take any in. So that means that our beautiful, young, healthy animals with so much to give, that [they] are dying because nobody’s even seen them. ... Over the years, I’ve always gotten my animals from a shelter. They’ve just been the best animals. They seem to know that you rescued them and half the time I’m thinking, ‘You know, you guys rescued me.’ So it’s such a giving thing to do.”
Formed in 1994, Bartow County Humane Society changed its name to Etowah Valley Humane Society prior to relocating to a 4,928-square-foot shelter located at 36 Ladds Mountain Road in Cartersville in 2006. Costing about $240,000 per year to manage, the facility consists of two staff offices, a quarantine room, two visitation rooms, 14 temperature-controlled kennel runs, a cat room with 24 cages, a puppy room with 22 cages and seven outdoor kennel runs.
The EVHS’ ability to save 2,407 animals in 2013 helped drop the euthanasia rate in Bartow County to below 50 percent, compared to previous years when it approached 90 percent. According to EVHS data, last year Bartow County Animal Control took in 5,989 animals and euthanized 2,828 for a 47 percent euthanasia rate.
“From the time we started until, I guess, about 2006, we shared a facility at the kindness of Bartow [County] Animal Control,” said Ed Brush, a founding member of the local humane society and a current board member. “They gave us a little of their building so we would be allowed to do adoptions, which we appreciated. She for the most part ran that tirelessly and selflessly on her own just as a volunteer and worked with the county and worked with all the clients. Her intensity of involvement was incredible. ... It [was] all about the animals.
“So she made everyone feel comfortable and special and worked very hard to find a compatible companion for literally thousands of people. So when she continued her work as we moved into our new building as we expanded, she was the person that always got involved in thanking people, sending out thank-you cards for donations, attended fundraisers. [She had] just an absolutely incredible heart for the animals and was on our board from the beginning to the end. I don’t know that there’s been a kinder, more caring person in that regard. So I think not only did she save tens of thousands of animals ... but I think she made a big difference in tens of thousands of people’s lives as well.”
Echoing Brush’s comments, Canty detailed Parnes’ contributions to EVHS over the past two decades.
“It would be easier to state the positions that she did not occupy. As I said, she was a founding member, she was a longtime board member,” Canty said. “I guess you would actually have to term her as the first director even though there was no staff. She fostered animals, she rescued animals. There was literally no capacity she didn’t fulfill with the organization.
“[In recent years], she [still] was a very active board member. Her dental practice sponsored a lot of our events but she wrote our thank-you notes. She would come to the shelter, health permitting, at least once a week and I spoke to her probably two or three times a week. So whatever I needed — some kind of counseling or maybe a pep talk or something — she was one of two people that I always came to, the other being Ed Brush. ... With Linda being gone, she’ll be missed but her legacy to this organization still is an inspiration to us. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure we don’t disappoint her because as far as I’m concerned she still dwells in our heart.”