Save a dog, save a cat, save a shelter

Chihuahua mix Charlie is available for adoption at the Valley Humane Society in Pleasanton, CA.

Until I actually got into the trenches myself, I didn’t realize how many animal shelters rely on public support to keep operating. Very little money, if any, is provided by the cities and counties the organizations serve — even though these shelters are vital to the community. (Another little-known fact: Local shelters don’t receive financial help from their national namesakes. HSUS and ASPCA do some fantastic work, but funding local chapters is not part of it.)

At my current shelter, Espanola Valley Humane Society, nearly 90% of their operating budget must be raised through donations and grants every year. At my last shelter, Santa Fe Humane Society, the number was closer to 94%. And at Valley Humane Society in Pleasanton, California, 98% of their annual budget must be raised privately.

Now, Valley Humane Society is in need of urgent help. According to Executive Director Melanie Sadek, donations are down over 30% this year, thanks to the dismal economic situation. If they are unable to raise $125,000 before the end of next month, VHS will have to close its doors for good.

The shelter has already made deep cuts, including reducing the number of animals they take in by half. Shutting down completely would mean dire consequences for the area’s strays, as county officials will no longer be able to depend on VHS for rescue of their dogs and cats slated for euthanasia.

Sadek told KGO news, “We would love $1. Any amount would help us. If everyone would give us a $1, even in the Tri-Valley alone, we would be absolutely set.”

I’m in. My buddy Leia lives in Pleasanton. And while she has a lovely family, plenty of her four-legged brothers and sisters do not. Devastating to think their chance for a happy home could be dashed, and that a 20-year-old community staple — providing hope for thousands of deserving animals —could be eliminated with no alternative in sight.