Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Join Me at the First Annual Dakin Humane Awards!

Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society will honor four extraordinary animal advocates and one superstar animal at the first annual Dakin Humane Awards celebration on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. at the Wyckoff Country Club in Holyoke.

We will present three community-based awards along with a philanthropy and a lifetime achievement award in recognition of these individuals who make the Pioneer Valley a better place for animals and people:

*State Representative Cheryl Coakley Rivera is the recipient of the Dakin Champion Award for her tireless advocacy as a public servant on behalf of those most in need of a strong voice in Boston, including the animals. Rep. Coakley Rivera passionately and convincingly led the fight to prevent the unnecessary devocalization of dogs and cats, has argued against legislation that attempts to ban specific breeds, and has been recognized for her exemplary efforts to help end greyhound racing in Massachusetts.

*Eleven year old Colin Scully will be presented with the Dakin Youth Award for his commitment to helping animals at a local cat sanctuary. Along with his dad, Colin spends hours every Sunday caring for the cats and helping out with special projects, which include providing extra attention to cats nearing the end of their lives. This selfless young man rises above the heartbreak he sometimes faces and returns each week to help "his cats" enjoy his love and gentle touch.

*Hawley resident, Rarie Dye, will be honored with the Richard and Nathalie Woodbury Award, named after the couple whose vision and legacy secured Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society's future. From the time she relocated from Texas to Franklin County in the 1980's, Ms. Dye believed it was "important to support your local animal shelter." Through a merger and its recent expansion into Hampden County, Ms. Dye has played a major role in the success of the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society. Rarie Dye's generosity, while quietly given, has largely helped Dakin become the organization it is today.

*The Janet Wilder Dakin Lifetime Achievement Award will honor Judy Smith, who has been with Dain from its roots as Friends of Amherst's Stray Animals in the 1980's. She worked alongside Janet Dakin to improve the lives of homeless animals in the northern counties. Ms. Smith long served as the organization's treasurer, continuing her commitment as a member of the board of directors through Dakin's expansion into Hampden County. According to Executive Director, Leslie Harris, "From Dakin's earliest days, Judy has done and amazing amount of daily, hands-on volunteer work, all the while maintaining a complete and detailed understanding of the organization's increasingly complex financial position. Judy's retirement from the board in 2011 marked the end of a long volunteer career that helped position Dakin as the pre-eminent animal charity in the Pioneer Valley."

*The Dakin Animal Hero Award will be presented to K-9 Dakota, the first and only accelerant-detecting canine with Springfield's Arson & Bomb Squad. Dakota recently retired after 12 yars of service, making him one of the oldest working dogs in the country. Near the end of his career, Dakota was involved in the investigation of a church fire that drew national attention. His distinguished career began following his adoption from an animal shelter. A children's book, Pound Puppy to Fire Dog, has been written in his honor.

In addition to the award recipients, special guest Cherry Garcia, one of 22 dogs taken from the home of notorious dog fighter, Michael Vick, will be joined by his family, including companion dog Madison and humans Paul and Melissa. They will share the story of Cherry's journey from a life of abuse as a bait dog who was completely shut down emotionally when rescued to a happy, charismatic dog and much-loved family member. Cherry now makes many public appearances to raise awareness about his breed.

We are grateful to our sponsors for the Dakin Humane Awards: Five Star Building Corp., Berkshire Bank, Baystate Health, White Rose Memorial Services, Hart & Patterson Financial Services, and Bertera Subaru. Our generous media sponsors are WWLP-22News, WAMC Northeast Public Radio, and the Valley Advocate.

You are cordially invited to come celebrate these remarkable individuals and support Dakin's work on behalf of animals. With Master of Ceremonies WAMC's Paul Tuthill and your host, WWLP-22News meterologist Brian Lapis, this promises to be a memorable and fun evening. Dinner will be followed by dancing to the Floyd Patterson Band. Find more information, including tickets, online at www.dpvhs.org or by calling 413-781-4000 x DOG (364).

See you there!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Opening Day...of the Kitten Season

Dakin's adoption center veterinary team is scrambling to save a cat and kittens who arrived on our doorstep just moments ago.

Some helpful Springfield residents found the beautiful tabby mother cat giving birth in their garage this morning. After hours of labor, though, the cat appeared to be suffering. The staff at the local emergency veterinary hospital determined that, although two kittens had been born, another kitten remained inside. Fearing that the remaining kitten was dead and that this poor stray cat might require surgery, the emergency clinic sent the people and the foundlings to Dakin for help.

As of this moment, Dr. Spaulding, along with technicians Chrissy and Brittany, are working to spay the mother cat. While they hope to find the remaining kitten alive, they are prepared for the worst. Their expertise will at least save the mother cat's life and, thanks to Dakin's heroic foster parents and the adoption center staff, those two brand new kittens have begun their journey to a better life with a new family.

Dakin's Buddy Fund makes it possible to bring aid to animals like this mom and her babies. Please give generously to make sure this assistance continues.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dakin is on the Road to Help Cats

What do Stripes MacNeil and Dominobama Washington have in common? They were traveling companions on the ride down from Greenfield this morning.

Dakin staff came to the Leyden Woods community in Greenfield's west end to pick up cats needing to be fixed at Dakin's Community Spay/Neuter Clinic. With a pro-active management willing to partner with Dakin, Leyden Woods has been able to avoid the pitfalls many apartment communities face when they allow cats but don't regulate their care.

Thanks to the partnership between Leyden Woods management and Dakin, we transported 19 cats to Springfield for their spay/neuter surgery and shots. None of these cats has ever seen a veterinarian before. But that doesn't change the affection their families have for them. Bailey Gardner's "mom" cooed at his crate door as he was loaded into the van. She was, she said, practicing for the day she sends her son to college.

Tomorrow morning, the Dakin transport will leave Springfield bright and early, delivering the cats back to their families in Greenfield.

To learn more about Dakin's free spay/neuter program and other services, please visit www.dpvhs.org/snap/.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Help Dakin Win $100,000 in the ASPCA Challenge

Dakin animals need your help.

We are entered in the qualifying heat of the ASPCA $100,000 Challenge. In order to participate in the challenge, we need to be one of the top 50 vote-getters nationwide.

What will being entered in this challenge do for Dakin and the animals and people we help?

*We will be eligible for up to $100,000 in prize money that will help us help animals.

*We will have opportunities to promote Dakin in our community and beyond--helping us help even more animals than ever before.

*Most of all, though, we will have the pride of knowing that our community was among the best in the nation at saving animals' lives.

How can you help? VOTE!

Vote every day, once a day between now and April 15th. Just go to www.VoteToSaveLives.org, look up Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society (we're under "MA") and vote. You'll need to have a working email address so you can receive a confirmation email (you'll only get one when you vote the first time--after that, you'll be remembered). Confirm that email and vote every day, once a day, until April 15th.

Let your friends know! Post it on Facebook, Tweet about it, forward this blog entry, email all your buddies!

To learn more, visit www.aspcapro.org.

On behalf of Dakin's animals, thank you!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dakin to Offer Free Spay/Neuter to Select Communities

Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society has received a $199,400 grant from PetSmart Charities to be used by the Dakin Community Spay/Neuter Clinic. This grant will provide free sterilization for pet cats of low income residents living in the following communities or zip codes:

Franklin County: Greenfield, Orange, and Turners Falls
Hampshire County: Belchertown, Ware, and South Hadley
Hampden County: Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield (01104, 01105, and 01108 zip codes only)

Across the Pioneer Valley, more than three-quarters of the animals entering area animal shelters are cats. In 2010, of the nearly 6,000 homeless animals served by Dakin, more than 4,000 were cats. As part of Dakin's Three Year Plan to Adoption Guarantee, we must reduce the number of litters born to cats. This grant will help us assist those community members who want to neuter their cat but have no financial resources to do so.

Why these communities? Of the 75 towns Dakin served in 2010, nearly 50% the kittens came from only these 11 communities! Our plan is to strategically reach the people whose cats are most likely to have kittens that end up homeless. And our statistics tell us to start in these towns.

All qualified cats will receive spay/neuter surgery, a rabies and FVRCP (distemper) vaccinations.

Clients just need to call the Clinic to schedule an appointment at 413-781-4019. You'll need to provide proof of residency and of financial need. Assistance with transportation may be available.

Don't live in one of the "target communities" or need help with your dog? No problem! We can still help. Give us a call and let's talk about options!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dakin Cat Colony Rooms Open!

Ever wonder what has been going on in the spacious, sunny lobby area at our Springfield Adoption & Education Center? The space used to be the lobby of the animal hospital that closed in 2007. When Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society purchased the building in 2009, we made it an immediate goal to convert this lobby space into cat colony rooms as part of Dakin's Three Year Plan to Adoption Guarantee.

Thanks to the generosity of the late Barbara Sullivan and the good folks at Five Star Building Corp., the new cat colony rooms are a colorful, sun-lit space with three multi-level living spaces for cats. This week, we moved the cats in and welcomed our clients to visit with them.

Not only does the space give our cats room to stretch, climb, and bask in the sun, it also gives our clients more room to sit and chat with our adoption counselors.

Come on down and visit!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

2010 Year in Review: Community Spay/Neuter Clinic

Statistics from Dakin's first year of full-service operations in the Pioneer Valley are now available. To celebrate the successes of our first year, I'll spend the next few blog entries walking through individual programs and their achievements in 2010.

If there is one thing we do to save lives in our community, it is to provide high-volume, high-quality, low-cost spay/neuter services. More than any other service we provide, Dakin's Community Spay/Neuter Clinic will most effectively help us reach our goal of saving the life of every adoptable homeless animal by August 2012.

Dakin's Community Spay/Neuter Clinic opened its doors in October 2009, and since then Clinic staff have sterilized more than 11,000 cats and dogs!

In 2010, the Clinic served 9,498 animals. Of those animals, 75% were cats and kittens, while 25% were dogs and puppies. The Clinic has identified "target" clients: animals already homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. This means animals in the custody of humane societies and animal control agencies or the types of animals most likely to be in custody--namely cats of low income people, feral cats, or pit bull dogs. Of the 9,498 animals served in 2010, 89% were "target" clients.

Pit bulls are disproportionately represented in our region's animal shelters. While they may be only 3% of the overall pet dog population, they can account for as many as 50% of the dogs surrendered to humane organizations or picked up by animal control. That's why Dakin's Clinic will spay/neuter any pit bull or pit mix for $50. In 2010, we helped 424 pit bulls, or 27% of all dogs brought to the Clinic by the public.

Cats belonging to people with few financial resources are not only at risk of becoming homeless, but they also produce unwanted litters of kittens. Thanks in part to a grant from the Massachusetts Animal Coalition's Animal Friendly License plate program, we are able to provide $25 cat spays and $50 cat neuters for people who are on some type of state or federal assistance.

We provided Thomas J. O'Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center's animal control officers with coupons for $10 cat surgeries (including vaccines). The officers identified people in need in the course of their daily work. Together, we helped 28 cats and kittens in 2010.

Through our Pet Food Aid partnerships with the Amherst and Franklin Area Survival Centers, we sterilized and vaccinated 6 pit bulls and 54 cats at no charge to families who were struggling to put food on the table.

For female pets old enough to have had babies, a quarter of the dogs and half the cats have already had at least one litter. And many have had more than one litter--a lot more! Our record holder so far is Orea, a beautiful black and white longhaired cat who, at 7 1/2 years of age, had 13 litters of kittens before we spayed her. Although Orea is an "indoor only" cat, her powerful hormones led her to escape, find a male cat, and get pregnant...13 times!

Older animals who have had multiple litters are common at the Community Spay/Neuter Clinic. We have spayed cats around Orea's age whose people report that the cat has 2 to 3 litters every year--they just haven't kept track of exactly how many litters that was.

Says Clinic Director, Karina King: "The Clinic's work ties in with Dakin's Adoption Center work in many ways. Adoption Center staff often walk clients over to the Community Spay/Neuter Clinic's desk once they learn that the clients want to surrender their male cats for spraying or because they can't deal with anymore litters but can't afford surgery. We are able to provide them with spay/neuter they can fit into their budget. It's win-win-win: the pet gets to stay at home instead of being surrendered; the client gets to keep her beloved pet (we get lots of tears of joy!), and the Adoption Center has one less animal they need to care for and re-home. Adoption Counselors also bring over clients who are surrendering litters of kittens. When we spay a kitten's mother, we know that the Adoption Center will have fewer kittens arriving next year."

Although the Community Spay/Neuter Clinic does not screen for income for non-subsidized services, most of the animals we see have either never seen a veterinarian or have not seen one in the past year. Only 22% of animals brought in by members of the public had seen a veterinarian in the past year and were current for a rabies vaccine (as required by law). Of those who have been seen by a veterinarian, low-cost vaccine clinics (i.e., PetCo, LuvMyPet) are the most popular veterinarian for our clients.

Only 4% of our patients are non-pit bull dogs whose people are not receiving state or federal assistance; 18% of our cat patients are not receiving state or federal assistance and can afford our already low price of $80. Most of these people have indicated that they called their veterinarian and could not afford the fees.

I make these last points, not because I think veterinarians charge too much for their services. In fact, I have a long relationship with a local animal hospital, love their staff, and happily pay for the excellent care my animals receive. But I also know that many of my neighbors are not so fortunate. For these folks Dakin's Community Spay/Neuter Clinic offers a real and accessible alternative for spay/neuter surgery. In fact, many local veterinarians refer clients to us who could not otherwise afford spay/neuter services.

We are grateful to PetSmart Charities, the Massachusetts Animal Friendly License Plate program, and many individual donors for their support of Dakin's Community Spay/Neuter Clinic. Without their generosity, the Clinic would not be the life-saving force it is. Please consider making an online gift to support the Clinic's work, today.

Monday, January 24, 2011

2010 Year in Review: Pet Food Aid Programs

Statistics from Dakin's first full year of full-service operations in the entire Pioneer Valley are now available. To celebrate the successes of our first year, I'll spend the next few blog entries walking you through individual programs and their achievements in 2010.

Dakin's Pet Food Aid programs began in March 2007 with an arrangement with the Amherst Senior Center to deliver pet food along with Meals on Wheels. In that first year, we distributed approximately 500 pounds of food. As recently as 2009, Pet Food Aid delivered a little more than 3,500 pounds of food, thanks to new collaborative efforts with other senior and survival center agencies.

But last year's food distribution blew the doors off our previous records: Dakin delivered more than 20,000 pounds of pet food to people in need in 2010!

We helped a broad range of folks--housebound elders, individuals with disabilities, low-income families, and people facing emergencies like house fires--through collaborative arrangements with more than half a dozen human service agencies. Both of our Leverett and Springfield adoption centers served as pet food banks, helping keep animals at risk of being surrendered safe at home with their families.

Here's how it all breaks down:

Amherst Senior Center Meals on Wheels: 2,263 pounds; Amherst Survival Center Senior Grocery Box Delivery: 617 pounds; Amherst Survival Center Pet Food Bank: 3,120 pounds; Belchertown Senior Center: 485 pounds; Highland Valley Elder Services Meals on Wheels (Northampton only): 2,781 pounds; Franklin Area Survival Center: 3,153 pounds; Northfield Food Pantry: 4,858 pounds; Leyden Woods Community (Greenfield): 652 pounds; Northampton Survival Center (started December 28, 2010): 140 pounds; Pioneer Valley Red Cross: 200 pounds; Leverett and Springfield Adoption Center walk-ins: 2,300 pounds.

Without safety net programs like Dakin's Pet Food Aid, many more animals--and people--in our community would be at risk of homelessness. Allowing an individual or a family to re-allocate money they would have spent on pet food to pay for groceries, medical bills, or heating oil helps keep families safe and together.

What's coming up in 2011? You'll notice that our partnership with the Northampton Survival Center didn't begin until the last week of 2010. We estimate the Center will distribute as much as 1,000 pounds of pet food each month, leading to an additional 12,000 pounds of food in 2011.

Where does the food come from? Most of it comes from people like you. You can make a gift to the Pet Food Aid programs securely online. You may also donate sealed bags of pet food (we are unable to use opened bags) to either of our adoption centers. We thank you for your generosity!

A special thank you to The Amherst Club for making a gift that helps us purchase much of the food for the Amherst-area programs. If you want to help the Club keep making this gift, be sure to attend their fabulous "Love Notes" concert on Sunday, February 13th. Proceeds from this event help fund projects like Dakin's Pet Food Aid programs.