No Kill Lehigh Valley

No Kill Lehigh Valley

By Kathryn M. D’Imperio

Few things are as cute and cuddly as cats and dogs, two of America’s favorite pets. For many of us who have pets at home, love at first sight – not to mention unconditional love – truly does exist. That special bond typically sparks when we first bring a pet into the home and continues to grow stronger over the years shared together as a family. No Kill Lehigh Valley understands this bond of companionship and love very well, and works hard to keep animals in their homes and out of the shelters.

“They don’t know what’s going on, they don’t understand, they’re exposed to other animals and all kinds of strange people. They’ve lost everything they’ve ever known and felt secure about.”

The group is all too familiar with the tremendous number of cats and dogs spending their days locked away in shelters, and heartbreakingly, the vast number being put to sleep every year. Prior to starting No Kill Lehigh Valley, Founder and President Diane Davison served as president of the Northampton County SPCA. At the time, the shelter was killing 1,500 cats and a lesser but still very significant number of dogs each year. As president, Davison worked very hard to turn the SPCA into a no-kill shelter, which it still is to this day. Working in this role taught Davison how bad life becomes in a shelter, so this knowledge and the experience served as a driving force in founding No Kill Lehigh Valley in 2008.

“Even the best shelter is a horrible experience for an animal,” Davison says. “They don’t know what’s going on, they don’t understand, they’re exposed to other animals and all kinds of strange people. They’ve lost everything they’ve ever known and felt secure about.”

Davison started No Kill Lehigh Valley with a very real goal – to keep animals home with their families and out of shelters as much as possible. She and other group members learned that people were often dropping off their pets at shelters when they could not afford the veterinary care required for various conditions. In the interests of pets and owners alike, No Kill Lehigh Valley sends out roughly $50,000 per year in veterinary care support, helping pets to gain the care they need to stay at home with their beloved families.

“We get calls from very upset people who have a beloved family member – their pet – in need of care,” she says. “They can’t afford it; they’re desperate. Many of people who call have no resources, they haven’t been going to the vet, and if we don’t help them, the animal will die slowly or be euthanized. We’re helping the people as well as the animals. I can’t tell you, the stories we get are just heartbreaking. This is one of the major things we do.”

In just one example, a man’s cat escaped from his house and got hit by a car. Having nothing, not even his own automobile, he called No Kill Lehigh Valley for help. As it turned out, he was battling cancer and his cat was getting him through the downs of chemotherapy. Although the pet lost an eye, the man’s cat survived. It’s heartwarming stories like this that keep the group moving forward with veterinary care support.

The other major focus for No Kill Lehigh Valley is providing funding for the spaying and neutering of cats, ultimately working to reduce the number of felines ending up in shelters. Davison says most of the animals passing away in shelters are cats, so the group plans numerous low-cost spay and neuter events for cats in the area, typically in the fall and spring seasons. Operation Catsnip events receive bighearted participation from local veterinarians and the Eastern PA Animal Alliance with its mobile spay/neuter unit. Depending on the number of volunteers, events may allow for between 40 and several hundred spays/neuters per event.

“Every litter born is a disaster,” Davison says. “People don’t understand. They think we can have one litter and that’s fine. No, it’s not fine. There are so many cats sitting in shelters, being discarded on the streets. We deal with that on a daily basis.”

No Kill Lehigh Valley is not a shelter, but the group does partner extensively with Peaceable Kingdom, a no-kill animal shelter in Whitehall that also does a lot of spaying, neutering and basic low-cost vet care.

The Animal Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley also works hard to keep animals in their homes by providing food, and the bank’s director is on No Kill Lehigh Valley’s board.

Eastern PA Animal Alliance brings its mobile animal unit to help, and a number of area veterinarians also help with neutering, spays, and medical care, particularly Lehigh Valley Animal Hospital, Walbert Animal Hospital, Dr. Karen’s Critter Care, Quakertown Veterinary Clinic, and Easton Animal Hospital.

“We’re very grateful to the doctors who work with us,” Davison says. “They do give us a discount and they work with us a lot.”

“The number of cats we’ve spayed and neutered is well into the thousands,” she adds. “This is something we are very proud of, and also all the animals we helped with vet care – there is no other local group that does that. I know why and it’s because it is so hard to raise the money.”

Funded only by the community and occasional grants, No Kill Lehigh Valley really depends on the Lehigh Valley community to support their mission. Every penny raised goes directly to animal care. The organization takes no funding for administrative costs and the group is entirely comprised of volunteers. The money collected goes to help animals right here in our Lehigh Valley community – Northampton, Lehigh, and Monroe counties.

No Kill Lehigh Valley is deeply in need of donations to help fund veterinary care support for those who cannot afford it and to continue efforts to spay and neuter cats to keep them out of shelters in our area. If you can help, please visit nokilllv.org and consider donating via the PayPal link on the website, or send a check to No Kill Lehigh Valley, P.O. Box 4272, Bethlehem, PA 18018. The group is organized 501(c)(3), so any donations received are tax deductable. Another way of helping No Kill Lehigh Valley is by liking the group’s page on Facebook.

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