By JOE LISELLA
We see it far too often: A member of our community who hits a rough patch in life surrenders their much-loved pet to the Animal Protective Foundation (APF) because they are having trouble providing their pet with the essential care they need and deserve.
Whether it be a job loss, an expensive health crisis or other setback, these pet guardians are suddenly faced with a heart-wrenching choice.
At the Animal Protective Foundation we believe no one should have to make the choice to give up their beloved pet because a temporary circumstance means they can no longer afford pet food, essential veterinary care or other costs related to the health and well-being of their companion animals.
To help these pets, the APF announced the goal of creating a Pet Safety Net at our recent Capital Region Fur Ball Auction and Gala. Our amazing guests contributed more than $70,000 to help these Schenectady County pet parents with veterinary care, vaccinations, nutritious food and other services.
Assistance will be provided only to pets whose guardians are low-income seniors or are experiencing documented hardships such as unemployment or other challenges that prevent them from providing essential care for their pets. This is a hand up, not a handout, and all funds will be paid directly to veterinarians and other providers to ensure that the funds are used only for pet care.
In addition to proving genuine financial need, guardians will also be required to contribute what they can toward the pet’s care. The Pet Safety Net is not intended to provide ongoing care — it will only provide assistance for immediate needs.
We will work closely with veterinarians and others to provide services and items at a discount, and the APF’s pet food bank, vaccination clinics and other programs will be expanded to meet this increased need.
Based on our success, we also hope to work with our community-based organizations to create free quarterly community clinics that will offer preventive veterinary care and supplies to pet guardians in need.
We hope to launch the pet safety net in 2023, but we will need to raise enough funds to launch a two-year pilot program to establish a network of veterinarians and others who will work with us to care for these pets. Services can only be delivered on a funds-available basis, so we will depend upon the generosity of animal lovers in our community to get the Pet Safety Net off the ground and prove its viability and need. Thanks to our Fur Ball supporters, we are one-third of the way there.
Once we build a foundation, we will approach foundations and other philanthropic organizations to secure funding toward a program that will greatly reduce animal suffering throughout our community. If we can secure sufficient support we would like to expand the program beyond Schenectady County to the entire Capital Region.
To learn more about supporting the APF’s Pet Safety Net, please visit www.animalprotective.org/safetynet, email [email protected] or phone 518-374-3944, ext. 122.
Joe Lisella is executive director at the Animal Protective Foundation (APF). APF contributes Animal Chronicles articles and welcomes animal-related questions and stories about the people and animals in our community. Visit animalprotective.org, follow us on social media @AnimalProtectiveFoundation or email [email protected]
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