17,241. Thats how many dogs, cats and bunny rabbits the SPCA of Wake County helped last year.
The reach of the Raleigh-based no-kill animal shelter, which receives no government funding and no money from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, extends across county lines, providing services that affect more than a third of the counties in the state.
To most pet-lovers, the SPCA of Wake County may be best known for its adoption center, but it does much more than that. The group is one of the many charities you can find on our Holiday Guide to Giving.
Mondy Lamb, the groups director of development, notes that it puts an equally strong emphasis on preventing homeless animals through its subsidized spay-neuter clinic, which alters 5,000 to 6,000 dogs each year, and on intervention keeping animals from ending up in shelters by providing assistance to pet owners in need.
That could mean providing home delivery of free pet food to low-income seniors and homebound disabled adults, so that they dont have to give up their animals. Or it could mean helping owners solve behavioral problems with their pets.
The No. 1 reason animals are taken to shelters is because of what people think are unresolvable behavior issues, Lamb said. Just providing a little bit of guidance can be the difference in keeping the pet in the home instead of it being turned over to a shelter.
Just recently, Lamb said, the wife of an Army reservist called to duty in Afghanistan reached out to the shelters animal behavior specialist, Molly Stone, because the familys dog was going through terrible separation anxiety.
Molly worked with her and provided help and reassurance of an ongoing fix, and gave her the tools she needed to keep the dog in her home, Lamb said.
In addition to taking in animals dropped off or turned over by local citizens, the group also rescues thousands of euthanasia-bound animals each year from overcrowded government shelters.
And the group has been on the front lines in puppy mill busts, dog-fighting busts and hoarding interventions across the state.
Over the past couple of years, the SPCA of Wake County has assisted with raids or interventions in Caldwell, Pitt, Wilson, Jones, Brunswick, Beaufort, Gates, New Hanover and Stokes counties. Many of the hundreds of battered and broken dogs and cats rescued in those busts were brought back to Wake County, where they were rehabilitated and adopted out to loving families.
Those lucky animals end up in the groups adoption center on Petfinder Lane in south Raleigh a bright and cheerfully decorated shelter, Lamb said, but one also showing signs of the intense wear and tear of caring for thousands of pets.
Last month, SPCA of Wake opened a temporary adoption center in a donated space at Cameron Village in Raleigh.
We promised them a fun, heartwarming and special experience where shoppers could get nice warm-fuzzies seeing kittens playing in store windows, or where they could come inside and cuddle homeless puppies, Lamb said.
The group has the Cameron Village space only through Christmas, Lamb said, but it has gotten great feedback from merchants and shoppers who are learning that animal shelters dont have to be scary, depressing places.
Everybody is just loving it, she said. We are so, so, so thankful to Cameron Village, and hoping we are giving something back to them.
According to Lamb, the Raleigh shelter is on track this year to top the 17,241 pets it helped in 2011.
All of that takes money, and the animals of Wake County or rather, animals from all over the state depend on donations to stay alive.
The SPCA of Wake County has even come up with a way to turn donations into gifts, offering sponsorships of puppies, kittens and senior animals that can be sent as presents.
We help people and pets, Lamb said. We have a broad reach over more than 25 counties. We are not just putting a Band-Aid on a problem, not just caring for homeless animals, but we work hard to prevent future problems and future suffering. We really hit our spay-neuter message hard, and were providing that service to Wake and the surrounding counties so that tomorrow were not having the same problems as today.