A Tale of Two Shelters – Help Support the Future

I love dogs. But sometimes they frighten me.

And I felt a shiver of fear as I walked down the narrow corridor with dogs barking and lunging on each side.

Pet adoption shouldn’t be scary

Let’s just say it wasn’t the happiest way to look for a dog to adopt. And the dogs were so stressed by the noise and smells they were a bit psychotic.

I finally chose two, four-month old puppies–littermates I named Agatha and Christie. I would have liked to adopt an adult dog but finding one that wasn’t insane from kennel fever was more than I could hope for.

An easier way to adopt

Fast forward eighteen years.

The shelter is nearly silent. Instead of runs with barred doors, each dog has an “apartment” with glass doors and walls. In the apartment, each dog has a bed and toys. On the door is a description of the dog with his or her name on the door. And little bags of treats are available for feeding through “sniffer holes” in the walls.

Mixed breed dog with floppy ears

Flaps down and coming in for a landing.

I wrote earlier about my first introduction to the dog we would someday rename Shadow and who graces the header of my blog.

The first shelter was the Pennsylvania SPCA in Philadelphia. The second was the Tompkins County SPCA.

I don’t want to disrespect the PSPCA. They have a very hard job to do in a tough area with little support. And they are staffed by animal lovers who have to do things no animal lover should ever have to do.

But in 2001, the Tompkins County SPCA moved in a new direction. They became an open-admission, no-kill shelter under the leadership of their new Director, Nathan Winograd.

Having an attractive adoption center which causes less stress to animals is an important part of being able to find homes for every animal in your care. As is having lots of volunteers, including foster families.

Things aren’t perfect at our local SPCA. But if I compare it to my first experience adopting dogs, I think it’s much, much better.

A leader in the no-kill movement

Today, the Tompkins County SPCA is a resource for other shelters looking to find homes for all adoptable (and even less-adoptable animals). Best Friends Animal Society features a page of resources for other communities developed by the Tompkins County SPCA–resources that have been used all over the world.

It’s the impact the Tompkins County SPCA has already had throughout the world that encourages me to ask my friends in Blogville to support Honey and me as we participate in the March for the Animals.

Here’s why you should make a gift today:

  • I will match every gift up to a total of $250.
  • An anonymous donor will match $20,000 of gifts made before October 15.
  • With two matches, your gift is tripled!
  • The sooner I reach my fundraising goal, the sooner I’ll be able to relax and write something funny and entertaining for my faithful readers.
  • Because your favorite bloggers (Kristine of Rescued Insanity, Mel of No Dog About It, Sue of Greyhounds Can Sit, and Jodi of Kol’s Notes) have already given and they’re a pretty cool pack to run with.
  • BTW, did anyone notice that two of those bloggers are Canadian and one is a Kiwi? Where’s our American pride?
  • Let’s face it, a $5 donation (up to $15 with the matches) to the Tompkins County SPCA will do a lot more for dogs and cats than that gigantic coffee from Megabucks will do for your waistline.
  • You’re investing in a new way of sheltering homeless animals until we find an even better way to make sure every pet is loved and in a forever home.
Golden Retriever Puppy

Doesn't every puppy deserve a loving home and a cold ginger beer to drink? Donate today!

It’s easy to give from the comfort of your laptop. So go to my fundraising site today and join team Something Wagging This Way Comes by making a secure gift to the March for the Animals.

And if you’ve already donated, Honey and I thank you for your support.
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  1. Who can resist having a donation tripled? I’m there.
    I’ve given away many copies of Redemption with fantastic reactions from everyone.

  2. What a cool idea! When payday gets here, I’ll try to drop some in the hat! I wish we had a walk like that here.

  3. Thank you Pamela.

  4. Good luck Pam! I’m a big fan of Nathan and his No Kill Movement so I’ve read about Tompkins County SPCA. I wish I could help, but I’m working on starting an organization that will will keep pets in my area in their homes (1 part of the No Kill formula) firstly by opening a pet food pantry. My plan was to have it running in the new year, but recent flood damage in my area has me working to start earlier to help those families affected. I just love that there are so many ways for people to make a difference!

  5. I’m so glad that so many people are out there doing good things for animals. Hey Dawn, way to go with that pantry!!!

  6. The Nova Scotia SPCA has closed the dog kennels to the general public for a lot of these reasons. When you go in to adopt a dog you choose from the adoption board, which is a wall covered with photos and mini bios of each dog currently available. A volunteer will then retrieve the dog you are interested in and you are allowed to take him or her outside for a walk. It’s a very different system and I think it works fairly well.

    When I visited the Calgary Humane Society, I was very impressed. Their set-up sounds very similar to the one in Tompkins and I imagined was inspired by Mr. Winograd’s work. I certainly does make a huge difference. First impressions are everything, as they say.

  7. So awesome. I hopped over this morning to donate.

  8. Wait a minute . .I thought there weren’t any calories in coffee!! I’m off to visit your fundraising site 😉

  9. Thanks Pamela. So pleased to see you’ve reached and passed your target:) Your local shelter certainly does sound like a place for most other shelters to aspire to being as good as. And I’m sure a set up like that makes a world of difference to the dogs and prospective owners. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one day there was no need for shelters … dreams are free:)

  10. Ever consider selling swampland in the Florida Everglades? :)

    (Of course, I’m kidding. You go!!)