Monday, February 9, 2009

MSPCA Closing Marks End of Era...and a Chance for New Beginnings

When the announcement arrived late last week that the struggling MSPCA's Western New England Animal Care and Adoption Center in downtown Springfield would close at the end of March, I wasn't shocked so much as disappointed. The facility had been struggling to make ends meet even before the Angell hospital closed in the other portion of the building. And with no buyers for the building in sight, an endowment tumbling in a bad market, and an animal shelter racking up a $1 million annual deficit, the MSPCA made a difficult decision.

The impact of this decision will be felt for years in one of New England's largest, poorest, and most violent cities. Animals are at the bottom of any economic food chain. Springfield's animal population--both those who are homeless and those who have families with few resources--will soon have even fewer avenues for assistance.

But this is also an incredible opportunity. The MSPCA's departure gives the community a chance to come together and answer this question: "What kind of community do we want to be?"

Do we want to be a community that will fund a progressive animal welfare agenda? Do we want to be a community committed to ending the killing of healthy, adoptable homeless animals? Or do we accept euthanasia as the solution to ending their overpopulation?

Do we want to be a community who values life? Do we believe that to end animal homelessness, neglect, and abuse we'll need to do much more than shelter animals? Are we prepared to fund aggressive spay/neuter programs? Outreach to low-income communities? Education for underserved or at-risk populations?

If we truly are a community interested in finding the life-affirming way to address this challenge, now is the time to step up to the plate. We need your help as a volunteer and as a donor.

We also need your creativity and your brain power. Share your ideas with us!

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