Every week, without fail, a life gets saved on PilotOnline.com.
That’s not an exaggeration.
We’re talking about dogs. And cats. And a variety of other amazing little creatures that find forever homes through the Pilot’s very special partnership with local animal shelters.
“We started our weekly pet photo gallery in mid-October 2016,” said Erica Smith, Pilot Media’s online editor and director of digital strategy. “It started after a visit to the Norfolk SPCA. Former Executive Director Rob Blizard pitched the idea and, well, I have a soft gooey spot in my heart for pets that need homes.”
There are now 14 Hampton Roads shelters participating, with two of them sending us adoptable animals each week. Digital editor Greg Giesen edits information, writes headlines and makes sure they get posted and promoted. It’s all for the love of the animals – who need the help.
If the budgets for local animal shelters were a kind of cat food, they would be the dry, generic kind. The free promotion the Pilot provides is major.
“The Norfolk Animal Care Center is a municipal shelter, and as a government entity, we do not have a marketing and advertising budget,” said Barbara Hays, the center’s bureau manager. “It would be impossible for us to get in front of the public on a weekly basis, regardless of media type. I am forever grateful for the partnership and generosity the Pilot has extended to us and our shelter animals”
Sometimes the life that gets saved is not an animal featured that week, but a lucky future pup or kitten down the line.
“People see a story on us and might come in to adopt months or years later – but the story is what made someone remember we are here,” said Jessica Wilde from the Virginia Beach Animal Care and Adoption Center. “I can say that we have had a lot of positive feedback from all our stories done and as a result adoptions follow.”
The impact is deep. The human who adopts gets a new love of their life. The animal gets to move from a small enclosure to an inevitably much larger home or apartment. I know dogs and cats feel pain, confusion and loneliness. I believe that our pets have souls, and that their lives are worth saving.
“Being a nonprofit, we spend the majority of our limited funds directly on animal care,” said James McLaughlin, director of operations for the Portsmouth Humane Society. “You have been a bridge for us to a lot of great people throughout Hampton Roads that have learned about what we were doing, and in turn supported us through donations, and in many cases adopting our animals in need of a loving home.”
The economic reality is stark at almost all shelters. There are often not enough cages for everyone. It breaks my heart to bring it up, but yes, sometimes animals are euthanized due to resource and “adoptablity” issues. I believe we owe it to these animals under humanity’s care to do everything we can to help them find where will be home.
“Roughly 6.5 million animals enter shelters in the United States every year (ASPCA),” said Kate Baldwin, community outreach director for the Virginia Beach SPCA. “Adopting a pet from a shelter plays a significant role in reducing the number of homeless pets. Not only do adopters save the life of the animal being adopted, but they save another life by creating space in the shelter for another animal.”
As an employee of Pilot Media, I am proud that the organization uses its reach to get these animals adopted. To me, it is an epitome of serving the company’s mission of informing, inspiring, and improving the Hampton Roads community.
“Adopting a pet from a shelter is truly saving the life of a worthy and loving companion animal that might otherwise face a cruel and lonely end on the street or in an overcrowded pound setting,” said Ellen Thacker from Peninsula SPCA. “We can do so much better for our community’s animals (and we have!)”
If you’re considering a new family pet, please, folks, adopt from a local shelter.
“Last year, our region took in around 32,000 animals,” said Dyanna Uchiek, outreach and volunteer coordinator for Chesapeake Animal Services. “That’s a lot of homeless pets, but when you consider the human population, it only takes a small number of families to step up and offer these animals a home.”
A home that feels so much more loving and full with that new furry family member sharing the space.
“I know we often talk about the sad and lowly stories of these homeless animals, and how much they need us. But really, truly, we need them,” Uchiek said. “Animals have so much to teach us about love, respect, and compassion. We need them to remind us to maintain an abiding sense of wonder. To live in the moment. To love unconditionally. What these animals need is for us to open our homes to them, and open our minds and hearts to learning about love and life in a whole new way.”
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