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This Saturday’s Hogs for Paws event benefits the local organization Volunteers for Animals.

Brenda Cromwell, who has been a volunteer since the shelter opened more than a dozen years ago, says without their efforts, the Genesee County Animal Shelter would not be able to carry out many daily functions.

“In order to have the shelter that they have now,” she said, “VFA is very important.”

The list of accomplishments for VFA involving the shelter is a long one: several years ago it initiated a spay and neuter program, it takes care of much of the veterinary care and related expenses for the animals, it staffs the desk during adoption times and pays for the necessary paperwork to provide animals a new home and also purchases specialty dog food for the animals if needed (regular food is mostly donated from the community.)

But the biggest way VFA has helped the shelter is in finding homes, dropping euthanasia rates from 50 percent to 3 or 4 percent.

“I think a lot of the increase in the adoption rate of dogs has been because of the socialization that they get from the volunteers,” she said. “Now we have a trainer who comes in and works with problem dogs, she gives us instruction on how to keep them busy and keep them occupied so their bad behaviors just kind of go away when they’ve had enough exercise and they’re happier.”

Lynette Celedonia, who is studying vet tech at Genesee Community College in the fall and just started volunteering this spring, says being involved has eliminated many preconceived notions about the shelter and is a very rewarding experience.

“I know that every small effort that we make here,” Celedonia said, “has a big impact on that individual animal’s life. They didn’t ask to be where they were and each and every one of is enjoys showering them with any attention we can. Even something as small as an immunization for them – that’s a healthier dog that’s going to go to a family.”

And because they get no funding from any government agency (they get half of the $40 adoption fee per animal from the county), fundraisers like Hogs for Paws are crucial to its sustainability.

“Our vet bills run in the area of $75,000 a year,” Cromwell said. “Every penny we get, we need.”

They’re always looking for volunteers, especially dog walkers and dog and cat fosters.

WBTA will be broadcasting live from the event Saturday. There will be microchipping for dogs and cats for $30, obedience training, K-9 police demonstrations and much more.


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