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December 5, 2019 - 4:44pm

Pet photos with Santa will help fund good deeds done on behalf of homeless fur friends

Above, file photo of Rocky, the beloved pet of Howard and Billie Owens, who adopted him from the GC Animal Shelter in September of 2015.

Information from Volunteers For Animals:

There are three opportunities this month to bring your pet to Petco for a photo with Santa Claus. You'll get a photo with your $9.95 donation to benefit homeless pets at the Genesee County Animal Shelter.

Sponsored by the Petco Foundation, the photo ops will be available from 1 to 4 p.m on Saturdays, Dec. 7 and 14, and on Sunday, Dec. 15.

Petco is located at 4226 Veterans Memorial Drive in Towne Center at Batavia.

The money from this fundraiser will be put to good use.

Here are some examples of the invaluable work performed on behalf of companion animals needing forever homes in Genesee County.

The Path to Home

In July, 2018 Volunteers for Animals and the Orleans Correctional Facility launched the canine training program. Four dogs were sent to the prison to live in a dorm with their inmate trainer/handlers and the program began. Two weeks prior to the dogs’ arrival trainer Tom Ryan held classes for selected inmates to prepare them for their role in the program. The dogs were greeted by staff and inmates with much fanfare and high hopes for success.

Inmates were selected by the prison staff based on criteria they had established in the months before the program started. Volunteers for Animals provided crates, food, treats, leashes, collars, and other training equipment paid for with money from a grant from Maddie's Fund. After grant funds were exhausted VFA continued to financially support the program.

Classes range from four to six dogs per 12-week session. Ryan and two training assistants hold classes twice a week. The dogs learn basic obedience and are crate- and house-trained. Most of the dogs learn a few tricks, too.

The inmate handlers have become very adept at teaching the basics as well as dealing with dogs who bark at night, chew on socks and leashes, jump on visitors or misbehave in other ways. Inmates see participation in the program as a privilege and always look forward to the next class.

The prison staff has been extremely supportive of the program and on the day after the first four dogs arrived one staff member said it was the first time she had seen a bit of joy in the prison. Many of the graduate dogs have been adopted by prison workers.

This partnership with Orleans Correctional Facility has saved the lives of dogs from overcrowded shelters in the South and some local dogs who needed a little more structure to make them adoptable. It has also been an opportunity for the inmates to learn new skills they might be able to use after release.

In talking to the inmates at graduation, most of them say they have learned patience, problem solving and satisfaction in helping others. They are genuinely pleased when a dog is adopted.

Volunteers for Animals is committed to continuing to support the canine training program. Thanks to supporters, they will be able to provide food, training equipment and medical care when health issues arise.

Ember the Cat's Lucky Charm

Ember (inset photo below) was in pretty bad shape when she came to the Genesee County Animal Shelter. The vet suspected she got caught in an automobile engine fan -- her back legs were degloved, which means the skin was torn away; three of her paws were broken and she had some broken teeth. In spite of her injuries, she seemed like a very nice cat.

But it was August and the middle of kitten season, which meant there were more than 80 kittens in the volunteers' care. Ember was in luck -- a staff person from the vet’s office offered to nurse her back to good health.

Ember needed a lot of TLC to recover from her injuries. She needed regular care, especially for her open wounds. And later she would need dental surgery to address the broken teeth.

After six weeks of care from her foster mom, Ember was ready to come back to the Shelter. It was amazing how beautiful she was considering where she started. Lucky for Ember, she did not have to wait long for a home. After a week or so, a family came in looking for a very special kitty to adopted. Needless to say, Ember fit the bill perfectly.

Humane Works By the Numbers

  • In 2018, 419 cats and 198 dogs were adopted from the Genesee County Animal Shelter and the Volunteers For Animals.
  • In 2018, VFA proivded low-cost spay / neuter vouchers for 144 dogs and 654 cats -- including 152 feral cats. That's a total of $65,000 in vet care charges.
  • Since it began in 2015, more than 3,500 cats and dogs have been spayed or neutered through vouchers available in the "Spay It Forward" program and to ensure shelter animals are spayed and neutered prior to adoption.
  • Since the start of Winnie's Fund, the Volunteers For Animals have helped more than 20 animals with serious medical issues get the treatment they need so they could be adopted -- spending more than $12,000 in the process to make that possible.
  • More than $70,000 was spent in 2018 on vet care, surgery, medications and vaccines for more than 800 animals that came through the Genesee County Animal Shelter.

Consider Donating This Season

This 100-percent volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization -- Volunteers For Animals -- uses your tax-deductible monetary donations and donated goods to help save lives and provide comfort to animals who depend on us -- to a degree that is not possible to achieve via the county's operating budget.

To make a monetary donation, click here.

Bring them your empties: Returnable pop/beer/soda/water cans and bottles can be donated at the shelter -- located at 3841 W. Main St. Road, Batavia. Or take them directly to the following three sites* for redemption money that goes directly to VFA:

  • Eastown Beverages in Eastown Plaza on East Main Street in Batavia;
  • Arc Recycling Center (Mon. thru Sat. 8-2, Wed. till 8 p.m.) at 3785 W. Main St., Batavia;
  • Le Roy Redemption Center on Route 19 (8 1/2 Lake St.).

*Note that NONE of the recycling sites accept crushed containers.

To donate goods, here's a wishlist of some useful items needed:

  • Kitten food -- Prefer to have Purina Kitten Chow and Purina ONE Healthy Kitten
  • Canned Dog Food
  • Dry Cat Food -- Prefer to have Purina ONE - Indoor Advantage
  • Dry Dog Food -- Prefer to have Purina ONE - Chicken and Rice
  • Paper Towels
  • Non-clumping Cat Litter
  • Newspapers for the cat cages
  • Cat Litter Boxes (no small boxes, please)
  • Dog Collars and Leashes
  • Kong toys and Peanut Butter
  • Large Nylabones and Dog Treats (no rawhide treats please)
  • Plain Yogurt
  • Cat Toys of ANY KIND
  • Rubbing Alcohol, Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Forever U.S. Postage Stamps
  • Letter-size Copy Paper
  • Gently Used Doghouses
  • Gifts Cards to: Walmart, Tractor Supply Store, Genesee Feeds, or Petco

PLEASE NO FOOD OR TREATS FROM CHINA! In recent years there have been animal-related deaths due to the consumption of food and treats from China. The volunteers just don't want to take the chance.

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