Published July 17, 2012
Volume 20, Number 6

Valley Humane Society Saves Animals, Enriches Human Lives  

(Can Stock Photo_suemack)

A year after moving into its new custom-built home at 3670 Nevada Street, Valley Humane Society (VHS) is a bustling, sustainable animal shelter with a refreshed and inspired community-oriented mission.

It has honed its predominant focus on animal rescue, rehab, and rehoming to concentrate on animals that are either currently healthy or have a medically treatable illness. “Animals that are sick still deserve a chance, but many rescues can’t focus on these animals because of the potential expense associated with them,” explains Executive Director Melanie Sadek.

On the community front, VHS has seized several opportunities to enrich human lives through animal companionship. A partnership with Hope Hospice sends volunteers into the homes of hospice patients to care for their animals until end of life, enabling them to enjoy the comfort of their beloved animals for as long as possible. Afterward, if no one else can keep the animals, VHS will find them a new forever home.

The Canine Comfort program, a pet therapy initiative with more than 100 VHS-certified dog/handler teams, serves two different constituencies. Paws to Heal targets those who can no longer enjoy the comfort of their own dog but could benefit from the companionship. VHS has the only therapy team allowed to visit the Veterans Affairs facility in Livermore. Their teams also visit Alzheimer’s facilities, end-of-life facilities, battered women and children’s centers, and special needs classrooms at local schools.
The other component, Paws to Read, is one of those brilliantly simple ideas. Offered in six local libraries, the program pairs a reading child with a listening dog, a “non-judgmental companion,” to help strengthen reading skills.  Parents, teachers, and animal handlers all give the program rave reviews.

Teaching youth about proper animal care and treatment is another important VHS role. Classes and outreach efforts range from critter camps to themed birthday parties to fee-based classroom education programs.

The AniMeals pet food pantry helps people who are struggling financially to keep their pets. In 2011, the organization distributed over 10,000 pounds of food to pre-screened families from two Tri-Valley food pantries. “Keeping pets in their existing loving homes is a win-win for everyone in our community, including the animals,” Sadek observes. This year’s program sponsorship, from Fremont Bank Foundation, is about to expire, and VHS is actively seeking a new sponsor.

Totally reliant on donations, the non-profit VHS has been very inventive when it comes to fund-raising, from its animal calendar contest to offering occasional shredding and recycling services. The next major event is Paws in the Park, “a pledge-driven dog walk and community-wide animal celebration” that includes agility demonstrations, health and animal-related vendors, music, and dog adoptions. Slated for September 23 at Pleasanton’s Amador Valley Community Park, Paws in the Park is expected to raise $20,000 to support all shelter activities.

Sadek sees VHS’s numerous team volunteer opportunities as a vehicle to build business support. “Because of the positive contributions we can make to the lives of people in our community, we are hopeful that more businesses will see us as a great organization to align with,” she notes. Visit www.valleyhumane.org for details on VHS programs and links to events.


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