Chapel Hill: Opinion

Guest column: Animal Services grateful for community’s giving

The holiday season is an occasion to rejoice and give thanks for the many different kinds of support that Animal Services receives from community residents and others. We are indeed fortunate to have not only tremendous volunteers that give hundreds of hours, but also many donors who give to varying programs throughout the year. Whether it be treats, bedding or other tangible goods brought into the facility – or monetary donations of any size – we put these kind gifts to use in a variety of ways to make a difference.

Interestingly, giving for the animals is far from fixed in our community. Rather, donations themselves have changed over the years, and this is no less true of the ways in which it has become possible to give. New and creative ways to support Animal Services have developed organically, adding unprecedented giving opportunities for members of our communities and others.

A good illustration is the possibility of ordering items, such as cat scratchers, directly from suppliers and having them shipped to Animal Services. This idea was raised some years ago and prompted the creation of a Web page that links people directly to supplier Web sites and needed items ( nando.com/pr)

Another excellent illustration has been the creation of adoption sponsorships. This came about unexpectedly when a dedicated volunteer asked if she could cover the adoption fee of a favorite cat. She cared deeply for the animal, but had too many of her own to adopt it. With that one question began an opportunity that many have since taken advantage of, sponsoring full or partial adoption fees for animals that capture someone’s heart. Most beautifully, many of these have and continue to become part of a wave of

It has become such a practice that now all one needs to do is to contact our staff with some information about the animal he or she wishes to sponsor and sign off on a simple agreement. Usually, a person sponsors a single animal that strikes a chord in their heart, but sometimes people sponsor multiple animals. In one extraordinary instance, a kind person sponsored the adoption of all dogs available for adoption!

People may now also give through the Community Giving Fund that Orange County created in 2013 ( ocncgiving.org/) The Giving Fund allows individuals to donate to a variety of county departments and a variety of causes within each. This fund has been extremely helpful in allowing supporters to directly give to the causes that they care most about. Currently, the Community Giving Fund has a number of identified areas for donations to support programs and activities offered by Animal Services.

For example, as a result of donations received to support the medical care of adoptable animals, it has been possible to enhance veterinary services in ways that help will help a number of animals become part of our live releases. Similarly, our Community Spay/Neuter Program has been the recipient of many donations that have supported no-cost and low-cost spay and neuter for cats and dogs belonging to families we would not otherwise expect to be able to have their pets sterilized. In doing so, they help to reduce the number of animals needing to be sheltered and the number of animals euthanized as a result of pet overpopulation in Orange County.

Perhaps one of the most monumental and unique of recent donations was a gift of more than $10,000 to build a dog play area at the Animal Services Center. This donation was received in the form of stocks through the Giving Fund. It has made volunteers and others extremely happy, as they will be able to play with adoptable dogs off leash in a secure environment for the first time. Animal Services staff is working to make this dream a reality early in 2015.

All of the donations we receive are generous and appreciated, but they are also signs of our community

Robert A. Marotto is the Orange County animal services director, and Andi Morgan is the animal services communication specialist. They can be reached at bmarotto@orangecountync.gov and amorgan@orangcountync.gov

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