Three local animal shelters are thrilled to be debuting a new joint venture this month to assist Hampton Roads pets and pet owners. And we think you will be just as excited as we are.
See, last year, the Hampton Roads Community Foundation invited the Chesapeake Humane Society, Norfolk SPCA and Virginia Beach SPCA to submit a proposal for a grant to underwrite a joint venture to help animals regionwide.
Who could resist an opportunity as wonderful and meaningful as that?! Certainly not any of us running animal welfare nonprofits in a metro area where tens of thousands of animals wind up homeless and cared for by shelters every year. The need is so great and the desire to help these dogs, cats and others led us to consider several ideas.
Ultimately, our three organizations decided upon a jointly run pet training center. We felt this was the best option because behavior is one of the most common reasons that people relinquish their animals to shelters.
Perhaps the owner can’t handle the dog on the leash or the pooch is overly reactive with other canines, or the cat is destroying furniture or refusing to use a litter box. Such issues can cause some people’s bonds with their pets to dissipate—and, sadly, fall apart altogether.
Many of these pet owners may have adopted their pet with the best of intentions but later find themselves unwilling or unable to cope. And that’s when animal shelters want to come to the rescue.
Rather than being brought into the situation only after the pet owner is fed up, our organizations want to offer proactive solutions that will address human-animal bonds before they break in Hampton Roads. The goal: preventing surrenders of companion animals by offering a variety of training sessions to help pet owners both understand and modify behaviors.
In this way, our three shelters hope for people and their pets to have much better relationships with each other than they might otherwise. We also hope that more pets will stay in their homes, as a result.
We all were delighted when the Hampton Roads Community Foundation agreed last December to fund the start-up of our center with a gift of more than $160,000 from the Alfred L. Nicholson Fund. The fund has been supporting our nonprofits individually with other very generous grants for years. This is the first joint, collaborative funding. One thing that made our proposal appealing is our business plan that projects the center to be self-sustaining from training fees after the first year.
Much-credentialed Tim Molina, a trainer with several certifications and considerable experience, will serve as Manager and Lead Trainer for the center, which we’ve named Happy Paws. Tim previously served as Canine Behavior Specialist with the Virginia Beach SPCA.
Tim will teach an array of classes – everything from beginner to advanced, and from basic puppy manners to agility. He will convene group classes, as well as private one-on-one sessions at the center and in people’s homes. Tim also will be helping cat owners with their questions through phone calls, Skype discussions, and in-home consultations. Training will be done via humane positive-reinforcement.
Other good news is that each of our three shelters will be able to offer a limited number of scholarships for struggling pet owners who might not otherwise be able to afford training. All with the goal in mind of keeping pets in homes where they are cared for as beloved family members.
With a little basic training and some dedication, so many pet behavior issues can be overcome. So, check us out, give us a try, and please share the information with friends and family. Together, we can work to reduce the incidents of people surrendering animals to shelters by ensuring that they learn to live contentedly with their non-human companions.
An exciting collaboration, Happy Paws opened to the public in mid-April and a grand opening of our newly refurbished training center is slated for Wednesday, May 27 at 11:00 a.m. For more information or to register for training, visit our website or call 757-963-8661. You can also follow us on Facebook. Receive a 10% discount on your first class for pets adopted from one of our three shelters with proof of adoption. We’ve selected a location convenient for all three cities at 5660 Indian River Road, Suite 118, in Virginia Beach. Just off I-64, Happy Paws is located across from Regent University and next to the Indian River YMCA.