SPCA pays to spay

Published 11:21 am Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Lunenburg County man’s sacrifice on Thanksgiving evening reflects a need that spans Southside Virginia.

The fundraiser earned money to spay and neuter the animals of low-income families from Lunenburg County. Lunenburg County Animal Control Officer Ray Elliott spent the night in a dog kennel at the animal control shelter there from 6 p.m.-6 a.m. Thanksgiving night, rather than spending time with his family.

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His “Ruff-N-It” event took place in conjunction with Southside Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and local veterinarians.

Elliott had no bed, blanket, food or luxuries during his night in the kennel.

“I’ll tell you, it’s a lonely six or seven hours in the dog kennel by yourself,” Elliott said. “The isolation is horrible. It’s disturbing that people don’t realize when you dump an animal out, they don’t have anything unless they can find a way to someone’s house or if a good citizen … calls animal control to pick the animal up.”

SPCA Board of Directors Member Francee Schuma talked about how the event came up.

“The way that this kind of came about is Ray’s frustration with having so many unwanted litters and our frustration with constantly having to deal with that too,” Shuma said.

She said attention is taken away from adult animals with special needs or senior dogs when an excess of puppies and kittens come in animal control departments or the SCPA.

One of the ways the SPCA combats this is by offering free spaying and neutering — a program that has been in place for years, Schuma said.

Most of the procedures take place at Love Shop Road Animal Clinic in Halifax, she said.

“It’s fairly easy — people contact us, say they are in need of assistance, and them we approve them to get spaying and neutering,” said Schuma. “Everybody’s approved. Our theory is it costs less for us to spay or neuter a dog then it does for us to take care of a litter of puppies.”

Elliott emphasized that “animal control is not an ‘out’ when people don’t want the animal anymore.” He said when you own an animal, it’s the owner’s responsibility until it dies.

“We as … animal owners need to step up to the plate and get our animals spayed and neutered,” Elliott said. “If we can promote spay and neuter, that means a lot of animals will survive because we won’t over-flood the market with little puppies or kittens and then the older animals that are at the shelter, then they have a chance to be adopted.”

While Elliott’s Thanksgiving effort will cut down on expenses for Lunenburg County, pet owners in other counties can still benefit from the SPCA program and are encouraged to do so.

At this time, no other counties have hosted similar fundraisers, but Schuma said she would love to see more counties participating.

“It’s a great time to raise awareness about the situation of overpopulation of dogs and cats in our area that we really need to address,” said Elliott.

Schuma agreed.

“Our goal is to help stop this animal overpopulation so we can get a handle on it,” she said.

Donations to the SPCA are tax-deductible and can be made online at www.southsidespca.org or by mailing them to P.O. Box 66, Meherrin, VA 23954. For more information, call (434) 917-9065.

Schuma said the SPCA is always looking for volunteers, as well.

Haley Auto Mall will sponsor the Southside SCPA’s fifth annual holiday donation drive from noon-6 p.m. Sunday at the Hampton Inn in Farmville, 300 Sunchase Blvd., featuring CBS 6’s Nikki-Dee Ray. The drive will include a silent auction and a life auction, which will begin at 5 p.m.; raffles; bakes sales; meet and greets; and pet photos with Santa and the Grinch.