Spay and Save, of Lafayette Hill, is holding its next adoption event at Bone Appetite, 8517 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill, on Saturday, Feb. 25.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, “Approximately 6.3 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year, about half cats and half dogs. Each year, approximately 920,000 of these shelter animals are euthanized, 390,000 dogs and 530,000 cats.”
Thousands of animal shelters and animal rights nonprofit organizations all over the country are engaged in heroic efforts to lower these statistics and find loving homes for these healthy, adoptable cats and dogs so they are not put to death because their shelters are overcrowded.
One of these dedicated nonprofits is Spay and Save, of Lafayette Hill, a 45-year-old, all-volunteer organization which organizes adoption events all over the Northwest, including their next one at Bone Appetite, 8517 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill, on Saturday, Feb. 25.
“Last year we found loving, adoptive homes for 320 cats and 60 dogs, our best year ever,” said Chris Daniels, president of the organization who has been a volunteer for Spay and Save for 45 years. “The year before we had similar numbers, our second best year. We work with rescuers in North Philly, and what they do is unbelievable and sometimes dangerous. They go into awful areas to rescue strays.”
Spay and Save was started in 1977 and incorporated in 1985 as an all-volunteer nonprofit by Peggy Banes, a Plymouth Meeting resident and teacher at Olney High School who had a doctorate degree in English. “She was such a passionate animal lover,” said Daniels. “She and friends would gather injured strays and take them home and care for them. Their work kept growing so much because there are always so many homeless and abused animals that need rescuing that they got 501c3 status.
“There was a lot of paperwork and time involved, but Peg (who died in 2008) did it all, even before computers and the internet. I can't say enough about Peg. A single woman with no kids. Animals were her children. Some of her students at Olney who had discipline problems and could not adjust, she would take them home and work with them. She was tough! She turned their lives around.”
Spay and Save has a remarkable 105 volunteers from Northwest Philadelphia and the nearby suburbs. Many are foster parents who care for the animals in their own homes at their own expense until a permanent adoptive family can be found. Some volunteers care for the animals in six area pet supply stores — three Petco stores and three independently-owned stores — which have agreed to showcase the animals to customers. Some dogs are also housed at the Steinbach Veterinary Hospital in Blue Bell.
Why do so many people volunteer their time for the cause? According to Mary Kate McInerny, of Ambler, “It’s so rewarding to see the transformation each dog has when they are rescued by Spay and Save. They come to us shy and timid at first but then go to their forever homes happy, safe and loved.”
Lorinne and Foreman, of Doylestown, told us, “We love helping dogs find their families, and Spay and Save has become a second family to us! Carter, my son, started volunteering seven years ago there at age 10 and has grown up a better man while volunteering for them as a result.”
Daniels, who has been president of Spay and Save since 2008 after Banes died, has been an animal lover since she was a child and was determined to become a veterinarian. She took all of the required science courses at Chestnut Hill College and applied to the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School four years in a row but was not accepted. (It is harder to get into veterinary school than into medical school since there are so many more medical schools than vet schools.)
“Since I could not get into vet school, I decided to do this kind of work to help animals,” Daniels said. “I don't regret it. The universe had other plans for me. I loved Chestnut Hill College, though. It was all female back then, and we all knew each other.”
Spay and Save gets lots of dogs from Alabama and Georgia, where spaying of dogs and cats is less common and overpopulation is more common. Most dogs are with Spay and Save for one month to six weeks. Cats are with them for one to two weeks on average. “The longest a cat was with us was for one and a half years,” Daniels said. “The longest for a dog was one year. When it is that long and the animal has still not been adopted, the foster person usually adopts the animal. I'd also like to mention Dr. Lori Portugal at Critter Care Veterinary Hospital (in Thorndale) and Sarah Sikora, manager of the hospital, because they help us so much.”
Other officers at Spay and Save are: Kimberly Shaw, secretary; Janet Lynch, vice-president, and Ginny Shaffer, treasurer. “I am very proud that we have so many volunteers of all ages,” Daniels said. “There is so much clerical work, cleaning cages, walking dogs, etc. Barbara Hardy, for example, is 87 and has been volunteering almost 45 years. These innocent four-legged creatures attract the best people as volunteers and adopters. I consider them all my extended family. Sandy Masterson is our hero. She works in North Philly and gets so many animals out of there.”
On March 11, Spay and Save will have another adoption event at Ruhroh Pet Store in Conshohocken, which houses cats and kittens for the nonprofit.
For more information, visit spayandsave.org. Len Lear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org