Wednesday, May 20, 2009

P-L-A-N is not a 4-Letter Word

As DPVHS prepares to expand our services into Hampden county, we're planning, planning, planning. From my desk, I can hear Lori (our humane educator) arranging some donated moving trucks to help our administration team get from Leverett to Springfield and our rescue team to get from Greenfield to Leverett. Michelle, our development coordinator and website maven, is working with the graphic designer on a reconfiguration of the DPVHS letterhead. Martha (an adoption counselor) and Nate (a volunteer) just wandered through the administration trailer measuring every wall, window, and doorway to determine the best way to use the space once the administrators leave. This morning, Judy, a longtime DPVHS volunteer and board member accepted the assignment of dealing with our telephone systems. Everywhere I look, people who already work long, hard days are stepping up to the plate to plan as seamless a transition as possible.

One of the key parts of this transition is helping our community understand what we're doing. To that end, we've got another community forum scheduled. This one will be held at the Greenfield High School cafeteria (1 Lenox Avenue, Greenfield) on Thursday, May 21st from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. This is an opportunity to hear more about DPVHS plans for expanding services and to come and lend your opinion about what you would like to see happen for animals in the northern parts of the Pioneer Valley.

And once we're all idea'd out Thursday night, it'll be time to head on over to the Rendezvous in Turners Falls for a shindig benefiting DPVHS. Our cat ladies extraordinaire--Nicole, Erin, and Anja--have been working tirelessly to round up a veritable who's who of local musical and literary talent for the evening. Not only will you be hanging with the cool kids from 8:00 p.m. to whenever, but you'll also have a chance to eat, drink, be merry, and bid on auction items to benefit the programs and services of DPVHS.

Hope to see you there!
I just had to share today's charming photo with you. This is (L to R) MacDuff and Charlie, dog companions to Ella Smolenski. Ella is the Northampton Lions Club member who organized April's benefit dog walk. Charlie is a proud Dakin Dog.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lions and Ringtails and Bears, Oh My!

Yesterday evening I was honored to be invited to join the Northampton Lions Club at their monthly dinner meeting. The Lions presented DPVHS with a portion of the proceeds from their April 26 Dog Walk benefit (the other beneficiary of the event was our host, Look Park).

This isn't the first time I have joined the Lions at their dinner meeting. A few years ago, the Lions chose to honor the memory of the late Michael Giusto with an annual scholarship in his name for one of our staff to attend the training conference of the New England Federation of Humane Societies. One of the best things about attending the meetings of civic organizations like Lions is that you bear witness to the long tradition of service and volunteerism in even the smallest of communities.
On my way home from the meeting, I came across a small bear wearing a red radio collar. He was ambling across a street in Florence, stopping only to stare down my car as I pulled to the side of the road. He soon disappeared into the trees at the back of a yard. As I drove on along the backroads to my home in Conway, I encountered two raccoons out for their evening stroll. All of this is a reminder that with spring comes more wildlife. Please remember to slow down, especially at dawn and dusk when they are active along roadways. And don't assume they'll know enough to get out of your way. Give them a brake.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Truth can be Hard to Come By

Thank you to everyone who expressed their joy and excitement at the prospect of DPVHS extending our operations to Hampden county by purchasing the MSPCA's Union Street animal care and adoption center! I am grateful for your support and inspired by your enthusiasm.

One unfortunate spot in all of this is the statement made by Greenfield's newspaper, The Recorder. The front page headline of the May 1st edition indicated that DPVHS is considering closing both our Greenfield and Leverett shelters. In addition, in the May 7th edition, an op-ed piece ran suggesting that DPVHS is "abandoning" the animals and people of Franklin county.

Regrettably this miscommunication has led to angry calls and letters from DPVHS supporters accusing us of turning our backs on them.

Here's the real story: DPVHS has never considered leaving this community. We are closing the Greenfield facility because it is old, rundown, and does not lend itself to remodeling or expansion. In fact, any DPVHS supporter who has followed the saga of our search for land to build a new facility knows the Greenfield shelter was eventually going to be closed when a new building was built.

Every service the Greenfield building performs for animals can be done more humanely and more safely in our Leverett and Springfield buildings.

Leverett is staying open precisely so we can continue to serve the upper valley. Located in Franklin county near the Hampshire county line, the Leverett shelter has traditionally served more animals and people than our Greenfield shelter did. Not only that, but the Leverett building lends itself to renovations better than does the Greenfield building.

Our administrative offices (development, bookkeeping, etc.) are currently located in a house trailer behind the Leverett shelter. The people who work in these offices will be moving to Springfield some time in June. The space they leave behind will be used to give work, meeting, and animal care space to the Leverett shelter staff.

DPVHS has its roots in Hampshire and Franklin counties. Our supporters and most of our staff (including yours truly) live here. We are committed to these communities and will continue to provide vital services to animals and the people who care about them in Hampshire and Franklin counties. The good news is that we will also be expanding these services to communities in Hampden county.