By ROXANNE HERRINGTON
Special to the OBSERVER
Mahatma Gandhi said, "The morality of a nation can be judged by the way a society treats their animals."
Longtime NCCR volunteer Marcia Okerlund with Maddie, still up for adoption.
A group from Northern Chautauqua Canine Rescue pose with “big black dogs,” which often take a long time to find a new home.
The essence of Gandhi's saying comes to life whenever a dog enters or exits the Northern Chautauqua Canine Rescue (NCCR). Each dog has its own story to tell about human decency - or the lack of it.
Maybe stray dogs can't talk, but the unspeakable cruelty some have been subjected to is mirrored in their sad, fearful eyes or their cowering demeanor. Animal cruelty will never be wiped out completely, but there will always be those good Samaritans willing to offer their time and love to these helpless animals.
NCCR's mission is:
To rescue and provide sanctuary for stray and abandoned dogs and puppies and to do its best to secure for each of them permanent, loving, responsible homes.
To promote respect and compassion for all creatures through humane education
To reduce pet overpopulation by increasing public awareness of the need to spay and neuter companion animals.
To build or otherwise acquire, maintain and operate a shelter for dogs and puppies.
ONGOING NEED FOR VOLUNTEERS
The no-kill shelter on North Gale Street in Westfield is a non-profit rescue staffed strictly by dedicated, hard-working volunteers who can proudly point to thousands of successful adoptions over the years. As with any volunteer agency, workers come and go.
"There is a pressing need for adult volunteers for morning (8-11 a.m.) and evening (5-8 p.m.) shifts for cleaning and dog care," said Jann Balsano of Westfield, NCCR co-founder and longtime volunteer. "Our greatest need is for volunteers to feed the dogs, turn them outside into the yards for some fresh air and playtime and to keep their kennels sanitary and fresh. While this position isn't glamorous, getting to know and love each dog is the greatest reward. We ask that these volunteers be willing to commit to at least one shift each week.Volunteering is so rewarding and what a wonderful way to help the dogs get ready for new homes. Give the gift of time - just a few hours each week makes a huge difference!"
Volunteers may choose how they wish to spend their time at the shelter:
Dog walkers are always in high demand. After being penned up all day, the dogs really want and need some wide open space, exercise and companionship. And so does the walker, for that matter, making this a win-win situation.
Are you willing to be a dog's best friend? NCCR invites community members to join the Best Friend program at the Rescue. Choose a dog to spend one-on-one time with until it is adopted. Go for a walk, play ball, or just pet and talk soothingly to a new best friend. Feeding, bathing, cleaning up, and building and grounds maintenance are other volunteer tasks.
A critical need always exists for foster homes. These havens provide temporary respite for special needs dogs, those in need of socialization or those who simply cannot adjust to shelter life.
Reliance on donations
NCCR receives no government funding. Its volunteer staff relies entirely on private grants and the generosity of the community to run the shelter. Besides financial contributions, essential items always needed include first class stamps, HP Cartridge 564, bleach, paper, towels, laundry detergent, countertop spray/disinfectant, canned food, nyla bones, milk bones, treats and puppy training pads.
Also helping with the bills are the successful fundraisers put on by the volunteers, including auctions and yard sales. The response from the community has always been very gratifying.
In 2011, NCCR took in some abused dogs with pricey medical issues. Even given the best of circumstances, the expense for the average stay of a dog is $250, while the adoption charge is $150. Do the math and it becomes obvious donations are critical to the shelter's viability.
For further information on volunteering, donations or adoptions, call 326-7297 or visit the NCCR website at www.caninerescue.org
Learning Center up and running
NCCR is now in the process of fulfilling that part of its mission directed at promoting respect and compassion for all creatures through humane education.
"The Canine Learning Center was established to help people learn about, and build positive lasting relationships with their canine companions," Director Kimberly Stewart said. "We believe education and training is the way to be proactive in keeping dogs out of the shelters in the first place.
The CLC opened this past August with guest speaker Andrea DiMaio from Pet Speak. She presented "Help! I Don't Speak Dog!," a program that explained and demonstrated canine body language.
"In October we had Know Your Pet's Health with certified pet first aid technician Kim Sauer, followed by The Science and Magic of Clicker Training with LeeAnne Cogdill," Stewart said.
In 2012, area dog owners can look forward to enlightening programs such as Dog-Cat Relationships; Bite Prevention; Dogs & Storks (how to integrate a new baby with the family dog); How-to's of Crate Training; Pet First Aid; Leadership Skills; and How Dogs Learn.
In addition to the seminars, CLC will offer group and individual basic obedience classes. Trainer Kristin Yonkers will hold AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy classes and AKC Canine Good Citizen classes. There will be workshops for problem solving, such as house-training and leash walking.
"NCCR is expanding on its focus of rescuing dogs to helping dog owners improve their skills and knowledge," Stewart said. "The Rescue's goal is to have its Learning Center become the go-to place for the community."
Heard of Make A Difference Day? The Northern Chautauqua Canine Rescue, its volunteers, adopters and community supporters make a difference in the lives of all the dogs under their care, each and every day of the year. Each newly adopted dog that leaves the shelter - bright eyed and confident - is a living testament that the morality of the dog lovers in this Western New York community would meet, if not exceed, Gandhi's expectations.
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