By Leslie Merchant
Our pets are members of our families. They comfort, inspire, console and love us unconditionally. Imagine having to make a choice between a meal for your family or food and care for your beloved pet? Concern for Animals (CFA), a local non-profit organization, is committed to helping families never have to make that choice.
“Helping those who cannot help themselves,” is the mission of Concern for Animals. Pets are typically the last ones to receive food or medical attention should their families fall on hard times, and many are simply abandoned as a last resort. Since 1980, CFA has been an advocate for animals when financial instability leads to neglect and abuse of the most vulnerable in our society.
Sarah Hannapel, Executive Assistant at CFA, is passionate about pets and the ultimate joy animals bring to our lives. She explains that, “keeping families together and not allowing finances to dictate whether they leave their animal behind; not having to make that decision,” is the premise behind CFA.
She describes how CFA began as a grass roots movement by two women who were in a position to make a difference. In 1980, Ann Albohn and Joyce Pearce recognized a need to help domestic animals from less fortunate families and those that were victims of abuse and/or abandonment. Thirty-two years later, CFA operates with an eight member Board of Directors, two office staff and countless volunteers. 2,806 animals were helped in 2011 alone, and 2012 has seen an even greater need.
Nicki G.’s story is a familiar one. She explains, “I would just like to say THANK YOU for everything. I didn’t think I was going to be able to keep our very loving kitty because he started spraying and he needed to be neutered. I have two small babies and a very low income. Everywhere I called, they told me from $95 up. After I called your office, I cried because you guys made it OK – only $16.75. That’s so great! My babies and I love our kitty very much.”
The non-profit has four main priorities: subsidizing spay and neuter procedures, and emergency medical care, offering a free pet food bank, and rescue/ adoption.
Concern for Animals works with 32 veterinarians in the Tri-County area who accept special spay/neuter and medical vouchers for their services. The food bank is an essential service offered to qualifying families. Food, treats, kitty litter and toys are available to help keep pets at home with their owners. Plans to expand its programs are in the works as CFA prepares to transform its’ current location on State Avenue into a commercial facility.
Education and outreach are two more huge components of CFA’s mission. The organization endeavors to spread the message that pet care is available, affordable, and our responsibility as a community. “Given the number of animal non-profits in our area, there is no excuse to abandon, neglect, abuse or euthanize. Environmentally, it’s a cause for concern,” explains Sarah. “Unwell and abandoned animals can spread disease, they encourage wildlife (to venture into residential areas), and they can be a nuisance.”
Sarah reiterates CFA’s motto, “helping those who cannot help themselves,” when describing our duty as a civilized society to ensure the humane treatment of all of our animals. CFA also has attended hearings and trials on behalf of abused and neglected animals.
Fundraising and donations are obviously critical to the success of Concern for Animals. On Saturday, November 10th from 4 – 9 p.m., the 6th Annual Wine Tasting & Silent Auction Benefit Toast for Tails will be held to support CFA’s efforts. The proceeds raised during the benefit will sponsor almost 50% of the programs offered during the year. Auction donations, volunteers and sponsors are all needed to help make this event a continued success.
The majority of the animals that pass through CFA’s care are dogs and cats, however, the group is more than happy to reach out to other four-legged varieties as well. From guinea pigs to horses, every animal has the right to kindness and care through CFA.
“Louise, Righty and Two” are some of CFA’s currently available kitties hoping for loving families. Their heartwarming stories, along with other information about available services, upcoming events like Toast for Tails and volunteer opportunities are offered on the website or by calling (360) 456-8176.