Occasionally when I ask people to visit me at work, they will say it would be too emotionally troubling for them to see homeless animals in a shelter.
The good news they don’t realize, however, is that shelters are here to help homeless animals. Moreover, in Virginia during 2014, the state’s shelters and rescue groups collectively saved the lives of 77% of all animals for whom they cared. That statistic represents all classifications of what the state calls “releasing agencies:” public and private organizations, open- and limited-admissions shelters, large municipal facilities and small home-based groups.
But there is still much work to be done.
According to the ASPCA, which is not affiliated with any of our region’s local shelters, approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide every year with about half being euthanized due to lack of adopters.
In Hampton Roads, tens of thousands of dogs, cats and other animals become homeless every year. Local shelters take custody of these animals and provide compassionate care and adoption programs, while volunteers and fosters help shelters expand their capacity to accept more animals in need.
Currently, only about 20% of people acquiring pets obtain them from shelters. If we could encourage more people to adopt from a shelter, then many more lives would be saved.
Our Community’s Response
To help our furry friends, twelve animal shelters in Hampton Roads will join forces next week to educate the metro area about the plight of homeless animals seeking their forever homes in local facilities. These shelters will be conducting a public awareness campaign for the week preceding Valentine’s Day and many of us will offer adoption discounts during the February 13-14 weekend.
We call this special endeavor Homeless Animals Awareness Week and it is not a national effort we’ve latched on to. The campaign is something created right here in Hampton Roads by local shelter directors as a collective show of unity. This is the second year in a row we’ve offered this week to the public.
Throughout this unique week, shelters will be sending a variety of educational messages via traditional, electronic and social media. They also will be asking everyone who cares about homeless pets to wear or display an orange ribbon during the week to show support for shelter animals. The ribbons will encourage family and friends to ask questions, allowing animal advocates to explain about our community’s canine and feline residents who need our help. Shelters will offer ribbons to the public from their facilities. Orange is the color for animal welfare.
The participating shelters are: Chesapeake Animal Services, Chesapeake Humane Society, Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society, Heritage Humane Society, Norfolk Animal Care Center, Norfolk SPCA, Peninsula SPCA, PETA, Portsmouth Humane Society, Suffolk Animal Care, Virginia Beach Animal Care and Adoption Center, and Virginia Beach SPCA.
We are delighted that so many shelters in Hampton Roads are pulling together for this effort, despite varying sheltering philosophies about such hot-button issues as managed admissions and trap-neuter-return for outdoor cats. Nevertheless, everyone involved with the local animal sheltering community has joined together for this special effort to help loving pets find their forever homes.
Yummy Orange Food
We are thrilled that Ghent’s Press 626 Café & Wine Bar will be joining forces with Hampton Roads animal shelters for Homeless Animals Awareness Week. Owner Lindsay Bennett will provide special menu items during the week along with factoids and statistics about how pets are helped by shelters.
From Monday, February 8 through Friday, February 12, Press 626’s servers will wear orange ribbons and its menus will contain orange-colored and -flavored delights, such as a Li’l Hush Puppy with orange peel shrimp and Kitty Cake with orange creamsicle icing. The restaurant will donate 50% of sales of these orange items to the Norfolk SPCA for the care of homeless animals.
Please visit Press 626 and check out their delicious treats! You will be helping a homeless a dog or cat find her or his way to a new family!