Published August 17, 2010
Volume 18, Number 8

Valley Humane Society’s New Building and Fundraisers Coming Soon     

In operation since 1987, Valley Humane Society (VHS) is on the brink of a major transformation. Provided the weather cooperates, by next March the no-kill animal shelter will be occupying a new 5,200-square-foot home now under construction on its current site at 3670 Nevada Street in Pleasanton. More than twice the size of the existing modular building, the new structure is expected to triple capacity at the shelter, which will be able to go from saving roughly 300 animal lives per year to 1,000, according to general manager Wendy McNelley.

The larger space will also allow the shelter to expand its efforts in the area of canine rescue. VHS has traditionally been known as a cat shelter, simply because its facility has been too small to accommodate large animals, McNelley explains. “In our new building we will have the opportunity for up to nine dogs at one time,” she says. “That will be really great.”

In tandem with the construction, VHS is conducting a capital campaign to make sure it has adequate funding to support on-going operations. “Technically, we have the money to build, but we want to be responsible” and avoid depleting current cash reserves, McNelley says. “Our campaign goal is to raise $750,000 before move in.”

A good portion of that total will come from contributions and opportunities for naming rights for certain portions of the building, but other fundraising activities will also help the organization reach its target.

One of those is the calendar contest, now in its third year and a big success. Starting August 17, the public will be able to participate in the selection of pet photos to be featured in the 2011 calendar by buying votes online for favorites among the Top 50 contenders, chosen from a field of several hundred entries by VHS staff and volunteers. Each vote costs $1, and, in this case, supporters are encouraged to vote early and vote often.

“People solicit their family members from all over to vote for their pets,” McNelley relates. “We’ve had friends and relatives on the East Coast plunk down $100 for one animal. It can become very personal, like they’re on a mission.” The highest vote count last year generated about $800, and in total the contest raises roughly $20,000.

This year’s contestants are split about evenly between dogs and cats, with a horse and a sheep in the mix. The photos can be viewed online and votes can be paid for by Paypal or credit card. Voting ends on August 31.

A different type of fundraiser, the Great Catsby Casino Night, is scheduled for Saturday, September 11.  “We did this last year and it was tons of fun. People wear 1920s costumes, and there is gambling, dinner, and dancing,” McNelley says. Tickets are on sale now on the web site.

In addition to caring for homeless pets and offering them for adoption, VHS has a proactive outreach program that tries to prevent the need for animal rescue through community education. It also offers financial assistance for emergency pet care and operates AniMeals, which distributes free pet food through a partnership with Meals on Wheels and local food pantries. The food is supplied by Walmart and Costco, which donate product in damaged packages that would otherwise be discarded.

For more information, visit at www.valleyhumane.org.

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