by Becky Gaconnet, Dog Gone Good Pet Training, www.dggpettraining.com
Maybe I didn’t love you/ Quite as often as I could have.
Maybe I didn’t treat you/ Quite as good as I should have …..
We’ve heard the Willie Nelson tune, and if it was rather recently, it was probably accompanied by video of rescued animals, still showing the clear and disturbing signs of their abuse—definitely animals who weren’t treated “quite as good” as somebody should have. It’s part of an ad campaign by the ASPCA designed to raise awareness and funds to benefit abused animals. As a result of this very emotional presentation, you may have mailed a check to the organization as thousands of other animal lovers have done.
It is an effective ad campaign, and much of the money raised does help animals around the country. But does that money affect the quality of your community and contribute to ending pet homelessness and abuse in Brazoria County?
Thousands of Brazoria County citizens give of themselves every day to help distressed animals. They may rescue puppies or kittens from a ditch along the road, or adopt an older animal from a local rescue group; maybe they donate time at the shelter to clean or to walk dogs. Many people choose simply to donate money. If you are one of those who is quite willing to help by making a donation, let me encourage you to make your checks out to “SPCA-Brazoria County” rather than to some national organization.
First, it’s important to know that the ASPCA is not an umbrella organization that raises funds and then filters them down to local SPCA units. The ASPCA is a separate entity, headquartered in New York, and spends a lot of its funds there. They do provide very useful information on the web, and they offer grants and contests as a means for groups to apply for aid. But SPCA local organizations are not automatically sent any of those funds that you may have donated. On the other hand, a check made out to SPCA-Brazoria County supports efforts right here to prevent animal abuse, to house needy pets and to get those pets into homes.
If you send a donation to the national organization, they will use it for their general programs. If you keep it local, you can designate your donation to benefit a specific animal care plan at the shelter. Funds at the local SPCA make it possible for the staff to better care for the animals there. Currently, a separate fund has been used to vaccinate every animal as it enters the shelter. This helps to prevent the spread of disease, so that animals housed at the SPCA can stay healthy while waiting for adoption, and it makes it safer for visitors to interact with the dogs and cats. The SPCA runs a low-cost spay/neuter clinic. Your donation could be designated to support that service and make it possible for even more pets to be spayed or neutered. With fewer pets in the community reproducing, there will be fewer pets needing homes in the future. A strong low-cost spay/neuter program is an important element in keeping more animals out of shelters. Some older residents are doing all they can to keep themselves fed and healthy; feeding their pets can be a challenge. The SPCA has an “Animeals on Wheels” program that delivers pet food to these residents. People who might otherwise have to surrender their pets to the shelter can keep them at home, a huge benefit for the pet owner, for the pet, and for the shelter. Your donation could be earmarked for this purpose if you choose.
The SPCA of Brazoria County adoption fee includes the animal’s basic vaccinations, a month of flea protection and heartworm protection, and the spay or neuter cost. The cost of all these services far exceeds the adoption fee, yet the SPCA has been offering many special deals and “sales” on pets with greatly reduced adoption fees. Remember that the purpose of the SPCA is not to make a profit, but to maintain the health and safety of the community by keeping as many pets as possible in homes, not on the streets and not cooped up in a kennel at the shelter. Your donation to the SPCA general fund allows them to continue offering pets for adoption fees that families can afford. This gets pets out of the shelter and into homes as quickly as possible.
Let’s face it. Thousands upon thousands of beautiful animals are in need every day. You see them on Facebook–photos from all over the country of cute, fluffy kitties and pups; adult animals obviously suffering depression from having been “dumped” at the shelter by their families; rambunctious “teen-ager” dogs who are ready to romp. It’s tempting to try to be a part of rescuing them all. But we can’t personally rescue every one of them. Instead, why not focus your efforts on your own back yard. Find one organization in your community that is working to accomplish the goal of providing safe harbor for homeless pets, and donate what you can right there. It may be time and effort; it may be cash; it may be cat litter and bottles of bleach. If many of us come together, making small contributions to help the SPCA-Brazoria County, we can make it a shining example of a true animal SHELTER that provides the best quality of life for pets there while they wait (just a few days) for a forever home.
This letter was written by Dog Trainer and SPCA Volunteer, Becky Gaconnet, Dog Gone Good Pet Training, www.dggpettraining.com. Thank you Becky, for your words and your constant support!