Volume 1, Number 9
Help Celebrate Valley Humane Society's 30th Birthday
By Hacienda Pulse Staff Writer
The Valley Humane Society (VHS) invites the Tri-Valley public to join it for a milestone birthday party with cake, refreshments, and furry friends on September 21 between 5:00 and 8:00 pm at 3670 Nevada Street in Pleasanton. This community nonprofit and its supporters have many accomplishments to celebrate.
VHS was started to give pet owners a safe place to take their animals if they could no longer care for them. Thirty years later, the organization supports animals and those who love them in many additional ways. “Many people associate Valley Humane with our core activity, rescuing and rehoming animals, but what people don’t know is how much we do to support the community,” says Melanie Sadek, Executive Director of VHS.
Examples of that support include the 120,000 animal meals a year that VHS provides to low-income families so they can keep their animals at home. It also includes a partnership with Meals on Wheels to support homebound seniors who need food for their animals.
About 200 volunteer pet therapy teams also provide important services to the larger community through VHS. Each pet owner and animal team is especially trained to offer comfort to those who need the loving assistance of a dog, according to Sadek. Individuals who have benefitted from VHS-supported pet therapy include hospice patients, children struggling to read, high school students suffering from depression, and children grieving the loss of a loved one.
In December 2016, three canine comfort pet therapy teams worked with the Oakland Fire Department to provide support to the first responders at the tragic Ghost Ship fire. The pet therapy teams offered comfort from early morning to late at night over four days of exhausting and emotional work by emergency workers.
“First responders would leave the building grief stricken and come sit with our dogs,” says Sadek. “One firefighter reached out a few months after the event to tell us how much that small act of kindness meant to him.”
The importance of that kindness to those in need is what drives VHS volunteers. After the death of an Amador High School student last year, VHS pet therapy teams were onsite for a full week to support faculty, staff, and students.
The founding mission of VHS remains a challenge. “We have seen no change in the number of animals, 6000 each year, and we can’t handle 6000 animals each year,” notes Sadek.
VHS plans to continue supporting its mission in the traditional way as well as add a new resource, in late September, for Tri-Valley pet owners who need to surrender their animals. That resource, Home to Home, is a national network of animal shelters and rescue organizations that help people, on their own, find new homes for their companion animals without involving a private or public animal shelter.
Given its many programs, outsiders often believe that the national Humane Society funds VHS. Not true, says Sadek. “Valley Humane Society relies 100 percent on community support to fund our operation.” According to Sadek, ongoing donations and volunteers are needed to support and continue the valuable programs offered by VHS. For more information about the Valley Humane Society, visit http://valleyhumane.org.