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February 23, 2010

Making it Happen

The HSUS funds spay/neuter efforts across the U.S.

by Nancy Lawson

How many spaghetti dinners, bake sales, and doggie walks would you have to do to come up with $35,000?

The question gnawed at Valerie Rachal as she drove around town. She wondered how she was going to eliminate the hefty deficit that threatened to prevent the opening of a low-cost spay/neuter clinic in Hattiesburg, Miss. She'd worked so hard, for so long, to establish this lifesaving service at the Southern Pines Animal Shelter.

Little did she know the answer was about to come quickly with a phone call from The HSUS's Heather Cammisa, saying Rachal would receive her grant money.

Rachal pulled over to the side of the road and cried. "I was starting to sweat it, and HSUS saved the day."

"We could not have opened..."

A few hours after the latest attack on The HSUS from a self-proclaimed watchdog group supported by animal-abuse industries—and coincidentally the day of our Spay Day event that helps thousands of animals nationwide—local partners like Rachal from around the country continue to remind us of the importance of our work.

Because of The HSUS and other supporters, the Hattiesburg shelter is holding Spay Day for the first time, offering special discounts to feral cat caretakers.

"Our low-cost spay/neuter clinic could not have opened in July 2009 without the generous support of HSUS," says Rachal, the director of the clinic. "Other grant and donor funding left us with a $35,000 shortfall in needed funds—and HSUS stepped in to fill the void."

How many spaghetti dinners, bake sales, and doggie walks would you have to do to come up with $35,000?

A moving ad campaign

Intended to tackle the area's tremendous overpopulation problem, the clinic is responsible for nearly 3,000 spay/neuters in its first eight months of existence. The number of animals coming into the shelter has also dropped for the first time in history, Rachal says.

And it's not hard to see why: In addition to the new clinic and the shelter's heightened promotion of shelter pets for adoption, HSUS TV commercials, billboards, and radio spots have blanketed the region with powerful messages about pet homelessness in the Gulf Coast. Another campaign called The Shelter Pet Project, developed by The HSUS, Maddie's Fund, and the Ad Council, has saturated airwaves nationwide with adoption pleas.

"We've had individuals call to make an appointment, and they'll say, 'I saw your ad on television,' and I know that means an HSUS ad because we can't afford an ad," says Rachal. "I think the TV ads really caught their attention because they are so moving."

Help us help more animal shelters on Spay Day and every day. Donate today and send CCF a message that its petty attack ad will backfire »

Funding an innovative partnership

Hundreds of miles away in Ohio, Pet Alliance's Spay Ohio program is able to help a woman overwhelmed with dozens of cats because of a grant through The HSUS's Spay Day program. Working in partnership with the Cincinnati Pet Food Pantry, Spay Ohio is also identifying pet owners in need who cannot afford to pay for the surgeries that would prevent more litters.

"Anybody who comes in for donated food will let us know what kinds of animals they have and whether they're spayed or neutered," says Pet Alliance director Anita Barron, who then arranges for help. An offer of assistance from The HSUS came at the perfect time, she adds, because the pet food pantry was about to launch.

"Thank you to everyone involved in giving us this wonderful opportunity to help our community," says Barron.


Nancy Lawson is vice president of publications and brand management at The HSUS.

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