Helping stray animals find permanent, loving homes is the mission of this week’s Friday Focus organization. The Humane Society of Calvert County  works to place animals in responsible homes, increase awareness through education and outreach, reduce animal overpopulation and eliminate cruelty. They serve as an advocate for animals by promoting humane standards, and seek to enhance the relationship between animals and people.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

A: The Humane Society of Calvert County is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization specializing in placing homeless animals into loving homes throughout Southern Maryland.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: A few years back, we brought in a very thin dog. He had been left chained out in the back of an abandoned home. He was thin, malnourished, hairless and had obviously lost hope. We brought him into our organization, fattened him up, made him healthy again and found him an amazing home. This is a story that repeats itself all the time within our organization and each and every time, it is special to us, but this guy really stood out as he was one of the first that I took part in.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Our biggest challenge, by far, is the constant frustration that there are still so many animals in need of homes and we are unable to take them in due to space limitations. We look forward to a day when there are no more homeless pets.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

 A: The Society’s 13th Annual Pet Day 5k is coming up on Saturday, September 12 at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Solomon’s Island. Race registration starts at 7:00 a.m.; the race begins at 8:30. You’ll enjoy a beautiful view of the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay for the duration of the walk/run. Dogs are welcome!

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

 A: We have many volunteer opportunities available. We are always in need of volunteers to walk dogs or help at events. We welcome visitors and, as always, the number one way to help is to adopt a pet!

HSCC logo
The “dog days of summer” are here, and so in honor of our four-legged friends, we’re featuring some of our local animal shelters. This week’s Friday Focus takes us to Charles County, where the Humane Society has worked to make a difference in the lives of our furry friends and their families since 1978. From providing vaccines and training classes to adoption services, the Society has helped countless animals live happier, better lives and even find their “forever homes”.

This week, the Society’s Fundraising and Volunteer Manager, Leigha Messick, shared her thoughts on the organization’s work, the challenges they face and those special moments that make all of their hard work worth it.

Q: Tell us about your organization. Who do you serve?

A: It is the mission of the Humane Society of Charles County to provide shelter and care for homeless, injured and neglected animals through adoption, fostering, community partnerships, education and affordable spay-neuter and vaccine services. The vision of the Humane Society of Charles County is to create a community where animals are cherished and no longer need us for protection and shelter.

In upholding the vision and mission of the Humane Society of Charles County we will all work with these values: to always be compassionate and caring; to foster respect and understanding of all life; to protect, rescue, adopt and care for animals; to create partnerships for animal welfare; and to educate the community on animal welfare issues.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: It's hard to pick just one. Seeing the smiles of families reunited with their pets; watching an animal change from being frightened to being loving; watching an animal we've had for months finally leave to start a new life with its forever family. Knowing we are able to give hope to families who just need a little time or a little help to be able to keep their cherished animal brings so much joy to us. The happy stories keep us going.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Never knowing what will happen each day. It's a roller coaster of emotions here—one minute we are elated to see an animal find a happy ending, just to have another pet brought in. One of the biggest misconceptions is that the animals at the shelter have something wrong with them—that is not the case. Usually when they are brought in, we are the last option. Most owners are devastated to be giving up their loved one, and we do everything we can to keep them safe and find them loving homes.

Q: How can people really help/get involved?

A: Volunteer, donate at www.humanesocietycc.org/Donate, spread the word about these amazing animals!  Just the simple act of talking about the animals in our shelter to your friends or sharing a Facebook post can save a life.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Our “Mutt Madness at the Fairgrounds” event will be held on October 11, 2015 from 10:00 – 4:00pm. This year marks the 15th year that the Humane Society of Charles County will hold an outdoor event in the fall geared towards our pets. This year’s event will be our largest ever with new games, new contests, multiple food vendors, crafters and exhibitors. Please help make this year a memorable one and attend with your family, both human and animal!

golden retriever in pool
The dog days of summer are almost over, but finding animals loving homes is a year-round task! Helping the effort in St. Mary's County is the Golden Retriever Rescue of Southern Maryland.  When circumstances force a dog owner to give up their canine companion, the Rescue steps in to help find a new, loving home for the dog. The Rescue takes in around 50 dogs each year, depending on caring foster families to provide temporary homes for them until they can be adopted. We spoke with Pat Johnson, Founder and President of this St. Mary’s County-based 501(c)(3) organization for this Friday Focus interview.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

A:  Golden Retriever Rescue is a local organization that takes in golden retrievers at Tri County Animal Shelter or from owners who can no longer take care of their dog due to relocation, illness, death, lack of time or resources.

In addition, we are a resource to local dog owners providing information about nutrition, behavior, health, training, etc. via our website, blog, Facebook page, newsletter and at local events.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A:  My favorite moment is when we were contacted by a local vet who was concerned about a litter of golden retriever puppies who had been exposed to the deadly parvo virus. The owner could not afford the treatment for the puppies, and some had died.

We did not hesitate to bring the puppies into rescue where they were quarantined and treated at the vet's office. A temporary or "foster" family then cared for each puppy until a “fur-ever”, or adoptive family was carefully screened. Pups were all placed with loving families and are all healthy and happy now.

We are a small rescue and most of our goldens are adopted locally, so we were able to watch the pups grow and become beautiful adult goldens.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Golden Retrievers are an expensive breed to own. They have been referred to as "lovable lemons", as over 60% die of cancer. They also have a tendency towards orthopedic problems and allergies.

Golden Retrievers often come to rescue with expensive medical problems that the rescue pays to treat, so fundraising is a big effort.

We also often need loving, temporary homes for golden retrievers until they are adopted.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A:  The Golden Retriever Rescue of Southern Maryland has teamed up with Mixed Bag Designs for a new fall fundraiser. Beginning Friday, September 18 through the end of the year, the Rescue will receive 40% of online purchases when you enter fundraiser ID# 449566 at checkout.

We also have activities such as dog park meet ups, beach blast and hikes where you can bring your dog.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A:  For more information about joining Golden Retriever Rescue of Southern Maryland call 855-477-3728 or contact@goldenretrieverrescueofsouthernmaryland.org. Annual membership is $30 per family.