Earlier this year, we invited animal welfare organizations to apply for one of three $10,000 Volunteer Appreciation Program grants to be awarded during National Volunteer Week—which is happening right now! We couldn’t believe the response we got from more than 140 groups eager to brag about their amazing volunteers. Our experts winnowed the impressive list down to a few finalists, and we asked our own volunteers to vote on the three winners.
In the end, the rockstar grantees were:
• Ark-Valley Humane Society (Buena Vista, CO) • Mayport Cats (Jacksonville, FL) • Foothills Humane Society (Tryon, NC)
Each group will receive a $10,000 grant in recognition of their volunteers’ amazing work for animals. Congratulations, guys!
If you’d like to volunteer, check out our Top 10 Ways to Help Your Local Shelter. If you already volunteer for animals, tell us about it in the comments, or tweet us @ASPCA using the National Volunteer Week hashtag, #NVW!
Tana, a two-year-old filly, at the time of rescue (top) and after rehabilitation (bottom).
When several horse lovers in rural Carbon County, Montana, noticed more than a dozen starving, neglected horses on two local ranches, they did what we hope everyone who witnesses animal suffering will do: They spoke up.
Local law enforcement was eager to take on the case. But, like most law enforcement agencies, they didn’t have the facilities or resources necessary to build a successful case against the owners and nurse dozens of horses back to health. So, officers reached out to the county’s only animal welfare group, Beartooth Humane Alliance, for help.
Diane Zook, Beartooth’s tenacious executive director, jumped at the chance. The only problem: Beartooth works mainly with cats and dogs. In fact, it had never assisted with an equine cruelty situation before.
Zook was unfazed. She called on experts including ASPCA Equine Initiatives Manager Stacy Segal for help. “Stacy is my hero!” Zook tells us. “Without her guidance, I really did not know how to go about this process.”
Segal drew on her wealth of experience investigating equine cruelty to help Zook and local police create a strong case against the owners of the starving horses. The hard work paid off: In July, both cases were settled in court, and Beartooth was awarded custody of many of the horses. For Zook, her greatest challenge was just beginning: Beartooth would need to find permanent placement for these deserving horses.
Segal immediately facilitated an ASPCA grant for the removal and care of the horses at a short-term foster home. Zook and her volunteers began the work of medically and behaviorally rehabilitating the horses, many of whom were undersocialized.
Meanwhile, Segal and Zook called on other equine rescues to see if they could take in and rehome these resilient equines, and the horse welfare community responded with an outpouring of generosity: Seven rescues from all over the country took in Beartooth’s horses, until there were just eight left. Zook prepared to care for the horses through the winter. And then, on Thanksgiving, Zook got an amazing surprise: Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue in Jones, Oklahoma, had an opening for the last eight horses. By December, every horse had been placed.
Today, many of these horses are in loving homes, while others are in sanctuaries. One is now a trail horse, two were adopted out together to be well-loved companion animals, and still another is a working cow horse. This spring Hazel, a mare who went to Zuma’s Rescue Ranch in Littleton, Colorado, gave birth to a foal. Hazel and baby will remain on the ranch as a part of its humane education program.
Should equine cruelty occur in Carbon County again, Segal notes, the police and Beartooth are now ready to confidently take on the case. We’re thrilled to have helped.
“The best part is that these horses have found a better tomorrow,” Zook tells us.
In September, the Bradford County Humane Society (BCHS) got a call that an elderly man had passed away, leaving behind six Chihuahua mixes. The dogs had not received care in over a week and urgently needed help.
BCHS, located in rural Pennsylvania, dispatched its animal cruelty investigator right away. At the home, the investigator found the dogs to be in serious condition, and that they had likely suffered long-term neglect. The pups needed veterinary care immediately—and the nearest clinic was 45 minutes away.
The investigator faced a tough choice: All six dogs had an urgent need for care, but the only vehicle she had was an old Ford F-150 pick-up that couldn’t fit them all. She was forced to make two trips.
Fortunately, with extensive veterinary attention and lots of care from dedicated BCHS staff, all the dogs pulled through and eventually found loving homes. Still, one thing was clearer than ever to BCHS Executive Director Jennifer L. Spencer: Her shelter needed a transport vehicle that would allow it to more efficiently carry out its life-saving work and cause less stress to transported animals. She applied for an ASPCA grant.
Since its inception in 2008, the ASPCA Grants Department has quickly become a key player in animal welfare philanthropy, helping fund exciting animal welfare programs in every state. To date, the ASPCA has made nearly $55 million in grants!
Last week, the ASPCA made its 5,000th grant, awarding $31,500 to BCHS for a brand-new transport vehicle, and we’re thrilled about how many animals we know it will help. BCHS will use the vehicle for cruelty investigations, as well as to ferry shelter animals to a local veterinary clinic for spay/neuter surgeries.
The vehicle will also help BCHS greatly expand its trap-neuter-return program, which just began in October and is the first of its kind in the area. Currently, BCHS must transport humanely trapped cats in the pick-up. With the new van, Spencer says, BCHS will be able to transport cats to the vet in one trip, reducing costs and stress for the animals.
Spencer says she’s already seeing signs that the program is reducing the local cat population and saving lives: “Last year at this time we were already overloaded with kittens,” she notes, “and right now we have open cages. I can’t wait for a year or two to go by to see what this program can do.”
We can’t wait, either, and we want to offer our sincerest congratulations to BCHS on receiving our 5,000th grant!
This may not be the year of the rabbit, but we’re kicking off 2013 by helping bunnies! The ASPCA Angels In Top Hats grants council was established to give funding to organizations in need, and we’re just “hopping” with happiness to announce this year’s recipient—SaveABunny.
Founded in 1999, SaveABunny works with shelters in California to save bunnies that might otherwise be euthanized. This includes rabbits from hoarding situations, cruelty cases and those with serious medical issues.
“The rescue work we do is both heartbreaking and hopeful. We witness abuse and trauma no animal should have to endure,” says Marcy Schaaf, founder and executive director of SaveABunny. “However, given proper veterinary care, individualized attention, lots of love and a safe environment to heal, we accomplish miracles.”
Through the Angels in Top Hats program, SaveABunny has been awarded $25,000 to expand their operations through shelter upgrades, improved foster capabilities and more resources for special needs bunnies.
“We are grateful to the ASPCA for recognizing the plight of bunnies at high risk of euthanasia. This grant will allow us to provide an even deeper level of care for these highly intelligent, sensitive and often misunderstood companion animals,” Schaaf says.
We love connecting people with their local animal shelters—which is exactly why we love the HEART (Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers) program!
We awarded $50,000 in grants to HEART programs across the country to help students of all ages learn about human rights, animal protection and environmental ethics. One such program, at Stockton Elementary in Chicago, gave students a chance to participate in a service learning program focusing on animal issues.
The students organized two fundraisers to benefit the Chicago Canine Rescue and paid a visit to meet the animals they helped. A big shout out to the HEART students of Stockton Elementary for all their hard work! Great job, all!
For more information on the ASPCA Grants program and how you can get involved, visit the Grants page.