By Debbie Hall
The Patrick Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) issued a public appeal for help after suspending its spay/neuter program until funding is replenished.
“Due to a successful year, our funds are running so low we’ve had to close the spay/neuter program until we are able to acquire financial assistance and reopen it,” said John Motley, former vice president and now member of the agency’s board of directors.
“We did not realize how much demand was still out there” for the spay/neuter program, said Oscar Joost, board president. He added the agency paid for 80 procedures within the last few months, and started to realize how great the need was after response to a social media post about the spay/neuter program.
Response to the post “was overwhelming,” Joost said, adding that “the organization also did not pay attention to fundraising” efforts as it had in the past.
The agency has one fundraising event planned, both Motley and Joost said.
Motley is crocheting an afghan that will be awarded in some type of fundraising event later this year. Motley said his rottweiler, Ted, is a constant companion when he works on the project.
The agency also is considering other fundraising ideas. “We need to get the funding replenished” so it can again offer the popular program, Joost said.
Motley said the spay/neuter program is essential to ”stop the senseless overpopulation and euthanization of unwanted cats and dogs in the county.”
Motley explained that he formerly worked at a local veterinarian’s office which, at the time, also housed the pound. There he met Carol East, “a passionate and caring animal lover.”
East expressed “to me how it more than saddened her heart that so many animals were needlessly being put to sleep each week” because “irresponsible pet owners were not getting their animals spayed or neutered,” Motley said, adding that he realized “the hard truth was, she (East) was right.”
East and Robyn Blevins later joined forces to create the PAWS organization, which initially solicited money and applied for grants to tackle the homeless issue and start the spay/neuter program, Motley recalled.
“Since that time, PAWS has grown in and gone in many other directions with its programs, but the spay/neuter program still remains its focus,” Motley said. “We’re hoping to get donations to reopen the program again.”
The agency also plans to undertake a membership drive.
“People have this idea that they have to be able to foster a dog” to be a member, Joost said. Although the agency does help to find foster families and forever homed for pets housed in the Patrick County Animal Shelter, PAWS members do not have to foster animals.
Joining PAWS costs $10 for an individual and $20 for a family per year, he said, adding individuals “don’t have to have a kennel” or foster animals. “We need passive, supporting members. Your good wishes keep us going.”
The agency also recently hosted a successful free rabies clinic, Joost said of the event that provided free rabies vaccines to pets.
The agency hopes to do other events to help pet owners, but Joost said that curtailing overpopulation is a critical component of PAWS’ mission.
“We really need to get back to offering spay/neuter services. I really admire the responsible and wonderful people who have taken of the spay/neuter program” in the past, Joost said, adding that is the only way to address the overpopulation and stop useless euthanasia.
“The more we can spay/neuter, the less of all the other problems we will have,” he said, and added the agency also has “had some success with fostering and finding forever homes for a few dogs.
PAWS also maintains equipment for emergency evacuations, whether from the shelter or to help with the care of pets during a natural disaster.
Joost said he plans to soon start working on updating PAWS emergency plan. He added that he will work on that effort with Steve Allen, Patrick County’s coordinator of Emergency Services.
And, when funds are replenished and the spay/neuter program is again operational, Motley said the agency again will search for foster families. Like Joost, Motley said the organization does not require its members to foster animals.
Going forward, PAWS also is seeking youthful volunteers, perhaps students from Patrick County High School “who would want to be our website master. We need to have an active website,” Joost said, adding that is not only required to help animals, but also when seeking grants.
To donate, mail contributions to PAWS, P. O. Box 743, Stuart, Va., 24171, or drop donations off at the Patrick County branch of the Blue Ridge Regional Library. Contributions also may be made via Paypal online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those interested in learning more or becoming a member, PAWS meets on the 4th Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. in the Hooker Building at Rotary Field, in Stuart.
To accommodate holidays this month and in December, meetings will be held on the third Thursdays at 6:15 p.m. in the Hooker Building.