I look back just before the Christmas of 1966, when I was the Adoption Committee Chairman on the Humane Society Board of Directors. We had worked hard trying to place as many animals as possible into good homes. The shelter was filled to capacity with sad, homeless, animals. The Board members were always saddened when figures were read at monthly meetings. More and more animals coming in, and never enough homes available for them. The euthanasia figures each month were horrendous. No matter how hard we worked, there was no solution available.
The page was bare as far as any animal welfare agencies offering services to the public – other than adoption from the Humane Society shelter. I noticed, however, that I could increase adoptions and DECREASE the number of animals that were turned into us whenever I personally offered financial assistance to prospective adopters and to the people who were turning their animals in. Because … “she keeps on having puppies/kittens,”! Accordingly, I called several board meetings, asking if we could start a financial assistance program for the public, by offering low- cost spay/neuter certificates in conjunction with local veterinarians. My personal financial sugar bowl was being depleted!!!
Unfortunately, the Board could not see its way clear to offer such a program. We had monthly bills which HAD to be met – salaries, utilities, food-and so, my suggestion was turned down. I was told that it could not be done.
At the holiday time of the year, people tend to be of good cheer, so I decided that I was going to TRY and start a program of my own, and do some hard fund raising. I wanted to SAVE LIVES. The pet overpopulation “problem” meant the continuation of homeless, unwanted animals being born, just to be killed! At least we could try to reduce the numbers!
Accordingly, my mother, myself, and a good friend, started collecting for garage sales, we also baked apple pies, sausage rolls, and cakes, which we asked our friends and associates to purchase from us to HELP SAVE A LIFE!!!
It took a great deal of time, love and hard work, to get started. But we garnered a few more volunteers to help along the way, and SAVE-A-LIFE was born in 1967. We started out by just offering financial assistance for spaying and neutering cats and dogs, but then we found ourselves in the pet adoption arena, also. (Usually, the unwanted litters of animals which we helped to spay!) Of course, when these animals were adopted, the donations for them included their spay/neuter fee – INSURING that they would not be out there to reproduce later on. I will ALWAYS remember the kindness of the first few veterinarians who participated in our program. It was an unknown venture – but they supported it whole-heartedly. I am happy to say that nowadays, we have many, many veterinarians helping us. God bless them! We are keeping them busy.
The pet overpopulation problem still remains an up-hill struggle. If only all animal shelters would include the price of spaying and neutering in their adoption fees, it would go a long way towards further reducing unwanted litters of puppies and kittens from “accidently” being born – owing to the fact that the owners often find themselves unable to afford the surgery at the necessary time.
In the meanwhile, let’s hope that programs will come into place preventing “indiscriminate” breeders from plying their trade. Breeders-including those who advertise in the paper-should have business licenses and breeding permits, and should be educated in the study of genetics. Also, frequent inspections of breeding/selling facilities should be encouraged.
Our all volunteer group is the backbone of our organization. These wonderful people are empathetic to the cause, and many of them put in a seven-day week “on the job”. We are always looking for more help – even if you can only spare a couple of hours working the desk at PetsMart on a Saturday – it would be most appreciated. If you love animals and have a little time to give, this would be a rewarding experience for you.
Deborah I. Friedman Estrader, President