As local animal lovers know, Pets Lifeline is nearing its goal of raising $3.5 million for a complete makeover of its shelter on Eighth Street East.
There was plenty of talk about it at PLL’s annual fundraiser for day-to-day shelter operations, held recently at Vintage Kennel Club. Sentiment seemed unanimous: after decades of caring for lost, stray, and abandoned dogs, cats, and the occasional bunny, its current cramped and shopworn compound has definitely seen better days.
When completed, the new facility – with more kennels, exercise spaces, exam rooms, and classrooms – will enable staff and volunteers to provide more care and services for a greater number of animals, and to the many families who come each year seeking the Love of Their Lives.
“Cats and dogs will have dedicated habitats designed to reduce stress and allow for socialization,” the plan says. “The visitors and staff will have adoption meeting spaces, and volunteers will be able to move more freely to assist with shelter needs.”
But does PLL need a $3.5 million upgrade? After all, it shelters animals, not asylum-seeking refugees jamming the cages at our southern border. How fancy does a . . . doghouse . . . need to be?
Well, first consider that U.S. households are home to an estimated 89 million dogs and 74 million cats. That’s 163 million animals, more than double the less popular species, children.
Humans being what we are, many of those animals become lost, stray, or abandoned each year. As our Valley population has grown, so have demands on Pets Lifeline. Though augmented by volunteer foster-homes, the capacity, services, and potential of Pets Lifeline – built in 1987 – are increasingly strained.
Consider that every animal brought to PLL by Good Samaritans – or tied to its gate or tossed over its fence at night by Bad Samaritans – gets immediate shelter and sustained first-class attention. Among many other important things, that includes: a check of tags, microchips, social media, etc. to locate families that might be missing their fur-ball; health care, including physical exams by a licensed veterinarian; treatment and medications for any injuries, ailments, or infestations; “birth-control surgery” for those who haven’t had it; and a microchip.
There’s more: baths and, if needed, grooming; individual assessment of temperament and training needs; inside kennels for each dog and fair-weather outside kennels; and a roomful of condos for cats, with daily house-cleaning and poop-pickup service. Food and water, of course, along with: treats and bedding; regular walks and socializing for dogs; and hugs, kisses, and belly-rubs from staff and volunteers. PLL’s multi-faceted adoption service thoughtfully places every animal with families searching for . . .well . . . for the Love of Their Lives.
Yes, Pets Lifeline is far more than an animal B&B. It provides on-site dog-training classes to the public and it educates Valley children with its “Read to Dogs” program, summer animal classes, and youth intern opportunities. In short, it introduces the next generation to the world of other sentient creatures, and to the joy of caring for them.
Now admittedly, that could cause trouble down the road. Kids taught compassion will someday demand to know why frightened asylum-seekers – many no older than themselves – guilty of no crime, separated from their families, suffering and even dying in crowded cages on American soil, were denied the same compassionate care that our Pets Lifeline gives – every day – to the Loves of Our Lives.