Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - July 29, 2011

Valley Humane Society needs our help

The Valley Humane Society, founded 25 years ago and still Pleasanton's only private, nonprofit animal welfare organization, is out of money and may have to close. This bleak financial report comes at a time when the organization was supposed to be sponsoring a community celebration to dedicate its new 5,200-square-foot headquarters and service building on Nevada Street near the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department headquarters. The new $1.3-million building and the land it sits on was donated by the late Joyce Keeler, a Livermore school teacher who died in 2005. She designated her gift specifically for a new structure to accommodate a growing need for care and treatment of wayward cats and dogs. As a dedicated non-kill animal welfare organization, VHS had a special appeal to Ms. Keeler as it continues to appeal to many others in the Tri-Valley who share her views.

However, a confluence of declining contributions and increased demand as the recession took hold in 2009 has left VHS without sufficient funds to operate the larger, more costly facility. Already, half of the pets being taken to VHS for care are being turned away. Several on the facility's small paid staff may soon be let go. To meet its financial needs through November, when seasonal contributions generally accelerate, VHS needs $125,000 within the next 30 days. VHS budgets $500,000 a year for current operations. Since VHS receives no local, state or federal funding, it relies on relies on volunteers, community donations and the money it raises in fundraisers to survive.

VHS is not just a building or pet care facility. Its programs extend into all parts of the Tri-Valley and include:

* Keeler's Kids -- A one-hour humane education program for public schools that helps youths better understanding the level of commitment in owning a pet.

* Critter Camp -- A camp that teaches the value of companion animals, about dog safety and training, and provides hands-on experience in caring for pets.

* Animeals -- Operated from the VHS food pantry, this program provides regular free meals for dogs and cats owned by seniors and the disabled, with volunteers delivering the food to homes in the Tri-Valley.

* Paws to Read -- This popular local program brings Valley Humane Society pet therapy dog owner teams to the Pleasanton, Livermore and Danville public libraries to promote the love of animals to children from 5 to 12 years old.

* Hope Hospice -- VHS has a partnership with this end-of-life care organization where volunteers take the individual's pet to their bedside for regular visits and companionship.

* Daisey's Gift of Life -- VHS donates these pet resuscitation kits to the fire districts in the Tri-Valley. These are specially-shaped masks that can deliver life-saving oxygen to pets suffering from smoke inhalation.

The Pleasanton Weekly through its annual Holiday Fund has contributed well over $100,000 to the Valley Humane Society, including nearly $30,000 received from Holiday Fund donors in the last campaign. Now, much more is needed in public donations. Monetary donations of any amount can be made directly or by mail to the VHS office at 3670 Nevada St., Pleasanton, CA 94566. For more information, sign on to the VHS Website at www.valleyhuman.org

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