OLHS director, Jennifer Petermann, and president, Cyd Dunlap, recognize success when they see it, and last year’s Pet Angel Tree program absolutely qualifies as a success.
The angels? … well, they’re the residents of OLHS during the holiday season, all of which are hoping to find a family to love.
The program, loosely copied from the Hattiesburg shelter, features a prominently displayed Christmas tree overloaded with colorful handcrafted ornaments and drawings of animals housed within. Compassionate donors choose an angel, purchase the requested items, return them to OLHS and reap the rewards; not least of which is the feeling of well being from helping a lost or stray local animal.
“We started the program last year and just did a few ornaments in honor of the animals here at the time,” Petermann said. “ We acted as if the animals were asking for the gifts. For example, a cat might have asked for a 20-pound bag of cat litter or new kitty toy; the puppies might ask for a new toy or blanket.”
“This year, we’ve expanded the program in that we’ve designed the ornaments to actually look like the animals. The back of each ornament will have their ‘wishes’ listed on them,” she added.
After donors collect the gifts on the animal’s wish list, they return them to the shelter. There they are gifted with the keepsake ornament and have their photo taken with it and the actual pet if he or she is still available for adoption.
The program, geared more toward the long time “residents” of the shelter, also caters to kittens and puppies.
“The younger animals usually get adopted the easiest,” Petermann said, “so we like to give the adult dogs and cats most of the emphasis during the holiday season. However, all of our animals have needs so we tend to feature them all at some point.”
During the program’s launch last year, OLHS administrators found themselves in a position where they had to replace the ornaments several times; which is a good problem. This year OLHS administrators are working on their third stocking of the tree and the results are evident throughout the facility.
Obviously, all gifts and donations are welcome at OLHS but the food needs listed on each of the canine ornaments are generally the same. This consistency is for the sake of the dog and its digestive health.
“Some people bring a five-pound bag of Pedigree dog food and some bring a 50-pound bag,” Petermann said. “We are grateful for all gifts regardless of an individual’s spending limitations.”
Not only do the animals at OLHS have wish lists; Petermann, Dunlap and their amazing staff of volunteers do as well. Their wish; a sincere hope that this exposure will encourage many, many adoptions in near future.
Don’t let the friendly, happy faces on the OLHS staff and animals fool you; or the clean cages, abundant food, toys, blankets and playful antics of best friend pups in shared cages. These animals need caring, loving forever homes and OLHS is in constant need of support.
According to the OLHS website; “For over 30 years, OLHS’ dedicated staff and volunteers have worked to improve the plight of lost, unwanted, abandoned and homeless animals by providing shelter, care, rescue, adoption services and foster homes; to investigate incidents of animal cruelty, abandonment and neglect; and to promote responsible pet ownership by advocating spay/neuter, permanent identification and the humane and compassionate treatment of animals.”
OLHS is a private, nonprofit organization that is not affiliated with any other local or national organization. Its work is made possible only by the generosity of contributors; namely those of the L-O-U community. Residents are advised that all contributions are tax deductible.
Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society is located at 413 McElroy Drive next to the airport in Oxford.For more information, visit its website at oxfordpets.com or call them at 662-236-7631. The OLHS adoption hotline number is 662-801-6788.
Jeff McVay is a staff writer and graphic designer for Hottytoddy.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.