Our work continued to focus on Norfolk, and we had more funding to move out into the surrounding Hampton Roads area. As in 2012, we helped residents in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Portsmouth. In 2013, we also helped residents in Suffolk, Hampton, and Gates County (NC). Through our program, 431 cats and 187 dogs were spayed/neutered.
Current vaccinations are often required with surgery. In some cases, we were able to provide additional funds for those services, but many of our clients were able to pay for this care themselves. Once we’d reached out to them about spay/neuter and helped them get to the clinics, they completed the process of vetting and sterilizing their pets.
Education + Initiative = Saved Lives. We couldn’t do this without the help of our funders, surgery providers, and the community members who contact us and spread the word to their neighbors and friends.
With surgeries moved from mobile services to clinics, we’ve had less opportunity to hear your stories. If we helped you and your furry companion(s) in 2013, please share your story and/or a picture with us here or on Facebook.
2014 will be a year of looking at grant opportunities. As more communities and organizations focus on spay/neuter as a tool for controlling homeless animal populations, there is more competition for funding. Terrific, on one hand – Challenging, on the other.
Still available from a 2013 grant are funds for spay/neuter for owned dogs that weigh at least 40 pounds. We need to spend this money by the end of March, so please apply or tell friends and family who qualify to hurry and apply. Use our online form and be sure to include the dog’s current weight.
Community Outreach and Education
Before there was Spay Hampton Roads, our efforts with Animal Rescue of Tidewater (now Animal Resources of Tidewater) began with outreach in Ocean View, and over the years, we’ve consistently had good turn out and support from this community. In April, volunteers spoke to the Ocean View Civic League (Norfolk). We provided an overview of our program for owned animals as well as TNR assistance for Norfolk cats. The feedback was very positive, and we were thankful for the opportunity.
In May, volunteers spoke with Brandon Middle School’s (VB) Animal Awareness Club about community cats and TNR. We were able to bring an animal ambassador, and Leo (aka, The Dude) joined the meeting. One of the students commented that “finally” someone brought a cat. Dogs are usually better in these situations, but Leo kept his cool, showing why he’s called The Dude.
Why TNR? Simply put, because there is a need:
Through outreach and simply talking with residents, we learned that many people using our program for cats are caring for stray, abandoned, and other kinds of community cats. They frequently begin by feeding, without necessarily planning beyond that, and in some cases seem hesitant to do more, fearing they will get in trouble by identifying themselves as the (default) caretakers. They want to help but are not sure what to do.
Unfortunately, too, there is a lot of misinformation. People can’t make informed decisions with false or misleading information.
So how do we protect cats? … We can educate ourselves with accurate information, promote open, honest communication, and encourage citizens to take fuller responsibility for the animals in their care. We can believe people are inherently good, and we can work together to save lives.
We applied this sentiment to TNR, but it holds true for the protection and care of all companion animals. In 2014, we will continue to focus on spay/neuter as a tool in reducing companion animal populations and thus ultimately saving more of their lives.
A few resources
Spay/neuter outreach and education media: A new campaign from Humane Alliance
Adoption, education, and outreach events of all kinds in Hampton Roads: Waggin’ Tails blog (look for weekly round ups of events)