The Girl Scouts of America Team Up With the SPCA of Texas

November 16, 2011  

By Jeff Johnson

Brady, Eli and Payton snuggle close for a family portrait. Photo by: Jeff Johnson

It’s just after 1 p.m. on a beautiful Saturday and the various occupied kennels and enclosures are eerily quiet at the Riverfront Boulevard Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Texas shelter.

A few couples file in and immediately are attracted to the various puppies enclosed in the center of the main room and lining the walls. The couples make their rounds petting eager pups pawing and yelping back. Some couples bravely venture down the various halls where bigger, louder dogs are vying for attention too.

After several minutes of browsing, the couples, still undecided, start to leave and the excited dogs begin to calm.

Suddenly, several young girls in green vest with an array of badges storm the kennels of puppies. They are the Girls Scouts of America Troop 2170 wrapping up a tennis ball donation drive for the dogs.

“We collected about 700 of them and we are giving them to the SPCA,” Maggie Pankey said.

According to their troop leader Julie Keith, her troop of 11 and 12 year old girls worked 15 hours to gather donations, which didn’t include the time they spent teaching Brownies how to make toys out of them.

“I’m very proud of the girls, they did a lot of work,” Keith said of the girls’ community project, which earned each of the girls a Bronze award.

Riverfront SPCA shelter is home to 67 various animals and over half are dogs followed by a considerably smaller population of cats. It is one of four facilities, two being clinics, funded through private donations, foundations, clinic fees and adoptions.

“We take in dogs, cats, horses, some birds, livestock animals and we had a llama in the past,” Vice President of Communications Maura Davies said over the phone. “We take any and all animals!”

Clem the pointer-hound mix, she is one of the newest arrivals at Riverfront Boulevard SPCA. Photo by: Jeff Johnson

According to Davies, in 2010 the SPCA took in over 8,000 animals and found homes for over 5,400 of them. However, the care of the animals doesn’t come cheap.

“We pulled all the numbers we could and the end result of that calculation gave us the number $600 per animal,” Davies said.

Davies said the figure includes medical care, staff and volunteer time, a micro-chip for identification and facility usage cost from the time the animals enter the shelter until adoption.
The SPCA of Texas doesn’t advocate euthanasia; it uses a selective intake system to control shelter capacities.

“An animal that is happy and healthy will stay with us until it is adopted,” Davies said.

Davies added the SPCA utilizes a number of media outlets and popular social network sites to place its animals a home.

With around 500 animals currently in its shelters, the personal care of each animal takes many. Davies said the SPCA currently employs 120 paid workers and a team of over 400 volunteers.

That’s where the Girls Scout troop 2170 comes in. The girls, say officials, are making a difference. Aside from gathering hundreds of tennis balls, the girls also gathered leashes, bowls and other fun accessories for the dogs.

“We didn’t just have fun with each other and the little girls,” Elise Savant said. “We had fun raising all that stuff to give to the dogs!”

But this experience meant more to them than just a day with the girls and puppies, it was a community project they took seriously and have been touched by.

“The experience is great because I feel like I made a difference,” Cara Lawson said. “So many people don’t understand how abused the dogs have been and it doesn’t get spread around like other topics.”

Many of the puppies sheltered by the SPCA are from unwanted litters, which is why Davies urges pet owners to spay or neuter their pets.

“The pet overpopulation problem in this country is vast,” Davies said. “Two to three million animals enter shelters each year nationwide.”

Davies said the only way for every companion animal to find a home would take every man, woman and child from birth to 75 years old to adopt seven animals a day for their entire life. She estimates three to four million animals are euthanized in the United States each year because of the over population problem.

“Spay and neuter is the best way to make an immediate difference in the pet overpopulation problem,” Davies said.

The SPCA spays and neuters all its sheltered pets before adoption.

Despite the individual cost of each pet’s care and parent package upon adoption, Davies said its highest adoption rates are a fraction of the cost for the same care by veterinarians and products bought in stores.

She said in her personal experience it can cost up to $700 or more.

“Animals adopted from the SPCA have everything they need,” Davies said. “From an additional round of shots and any other care from the veterinarian that might be necessary.”

Simply put from troop 2170, “Adopt a dog!”

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One Response to “The Girl Scouts of America Team Up With the SPCA of Texas”

  1. Jefferson "JDubya" Johnson on November 17th, 2011 9:17 am

    Another good publication to add to my online portfolio. “Thanks!”