“The continued use of euthanasia to control the size of its cat and dog populations is a choice a community makes, not a necessity.” – Peter Marsh, author of Getting to Zero
What is the cosmic connection between the routine killing of dogs and cats to a Saturday flea market? The answer lies in an illustrative tale.
Palmetto Animal Welfare Services, more commonly known as PAWS, has a program called SNYP (Spay Neuter Your Pet). In partnership with the Aiken SPCA, SNYP offers “free” spay/neuter surgeries throughout Aiken County for qualifying households.
Humans call SNYP volunteers on behalf of their companion cats and dogs and SNYP volunteers work to assure the pets get fixed. The co-pay is $20 and includes rabies vaccine and a micro-chip. No one is turned away.
Some get referred to one of the voucher programs, or Lenny’s Brigade for cats, but everyone who calls can get a deal on preventing unwanted litters.
The conversations are warm, supportive and take a positive problem-solving approach. Most applicants prefer to self-schedule directly with the SPCA Clinic, but PAWS will transport if necessary.
SNYP costs money, but begging and pleading wears on relationships. So when the SPCA offered PAWS a spot to raise funds at their monthly Phideaux Flea Market and Dog Wash, we figured that we would give it a try.
What could be so hard about getting all that stuff out of closets, attics, storage, garages, and selling it? Well, the answer is if it was that easy it wouldn’t be accumulating in all those handy spaces.
Flash to North Augusta where Todd and Jeannie thought that it was going to take six or eight months to sell their house while their new house was being built. Yes, the real estate market is soft, so who would have predicted that their house would sell in 29 days and they would be in a crunch to get rid of all that “stuff?”
Voila! We start our maiden voyage as flea marketeers with a horse trailer full of yummy stuff. You have to see the nearly new Mongoose stunt bicycle, and “Clemson-opoly?” Truly, a find.
But the synchronicity of the last-minute need to empty a house under contract, and an inaugural attempt to turn cast-offs to cash, symbolizes more than the affirmation of one effort.
Palmetto Animal Welfare Services exists to insist that if we work together, we can save them all. And I personally believe that if the first step you take is the right one, the road will rise to meet you.
PAWS was founded to address chronic and counter-productive gaps and rifts among a broad array of stakeholders in animal welfare issues in our county and the surrounding region. As our Facebook page and website claim, “PAWS is a vocal advocate to assist any and all animal welfare efforts in and around Aiken County to end the unnecessary killing of shelter animals.”
We began by forming PAWS as an “umbrella” 501(c)(3) non-profit by uniting a consortium of animal welfare efforts within the corporation. We also constituted PAWS governing body with people who were already doing the work to which PAWS committed: getting and keeping animals out of shelters.
Affordable and accessible spay/neuter through SNYP (Spay/Neuter Your Pet) serves the entire county. SNYP is PAWS core program. Then Shelter Animal Advocates Aiken Foster Network provides short-term foster care bridging the time between the county shelter and private rescue groups. Heartbeats raises the funds (averaging $600) to treat dogs who test positive for heartworm while impounded, so that they can be pulled for a partnering rescue. LEASH Squad in Wagener rescues and rehabilitates dogs that have been victims of cruelty and who need the kind of care few places are equipped to give.
All animal welfare efforts need the support of their communities to function. Achieving tax-exempt status with the IRS by becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, an expensive and time-consuming process, encourages and expands the essential support by validating the mission of the public charity. The PAWS group received a letter from the IRS recently informing PAWS that its tax-exempt status should be official by the end of August. Perhaps it represents another sign we are on the right road.
Tomorrow PAWS will join other flea-marketeers and crafters at the SPCA’s Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare from 8 am until 2 pm. Should you care to stop by and shop, or deliver some prized item for us to sell, or browse and chat you may find yourself inspired.
Join the No-kill movement. Help us “get to zero” with unwanted pet prevention, well-homed pet retention, and pro-active rescue.