By Brandon Martin
Staff at the SPCA of Martinsville-Henry County are working to help make sure the holiday season is special for the animals in their care, with a Black Friday sale event that features discounted adoption fees and a holiday feast specially created for four-legged guests.
Catherine Gupton, director of operations at the SPCA, is planning the animal-friendly meal that will be served on Thanksgiving.
The menu changes slightly every year, but Gupton said the staff sticks to foods that “won’t upset their stomachs.”
This year’s feast, for instance, includes canned chicken and tuna, green beans, and rice, she said.
It’s “just kind of a way to make them feel special. They have no idea that it is a holiday, but we do.” Gupton said. “We like to spoil them for the holiday since they are stuck here.”
A similar meal also is served on Christmas, she added.
The festivities don’t end with the meal.
This year, the SPCA also will hold a Black Friday sale, with discounted adoption fees for “any solid black, black and white, or black-striped animal,” Gupton said.
Adoption fees on Black Friday for cats are $10 and dogs can be adopted for $75.The deal excludes puppies under four-months-old and bonded pairs of animals.
The agency also will hold its fundraising drive on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1.
“Giving Tuesday is a national fundraising event. We participate yearly,” Gupton said. “This year, we have an anonymous donor who has stated that they will match any donation, up to a $50,000 cap.”
Donations received early and earmarked for Giving Tuesday are included in the total, as are donations received the day of the event.
Gupton also noted that “adoptions of puppies definitely picks-up around the holidays, but we do have to be a little bit careful.”
She explained that while some adopt as a less expensive gift alternative, many animals are returned after Christmas. “We get a spike right after Christmas,” she said, and added that sadly, the gift of an animal “isn’t as appealing.”
But the SPCA doesn’t “discourage adoptions during the holiday season. We really encourage them,” she said.
For those interested in helping short-term, or having an extra companion during the holidays, the agency has a foster care program.
“If nothing else, taking an animal home on foster for a couple of weeks gets them out of the building and helps ease a lot of their stress,” Gupton said. “If they wanted to foster, they could call in for information or they can come by.”
Typically, the shelter fosters young or old animals in need of special care, such as mothers and puppies. Additionally, the agency also occasionally fosters adult animals “to give them a break from the shelter. It helps them learn how to be in a home and it also is a stress reliever,” Gupton explained.
As the months get colder, the SPCA also recommends a few best practices for outdoor animal owners.
“In the city, there is an ordinance about the temperature range that you can safely keep an animal outside,” Gupton said. “Nothing under 32 degrees or above 90 degrees. It’s a little more varied than I’d like to see it.”
For those with animal houses, Gupton recommends elevating the structure so that it slightly off the ground. The houses also should be “insulated with straw or hay versus the blankets which can get wet and hold onto a lot of the moisture,” she said.
Another tip is adding “something that can hang down in front of the opening,” Gupton said, adding this will “help keep their own body warmth insulated so they stay a lot warmer.”
She also encouraged pet owners to remember the basics.
“We recommend checking water much more regularly” to ensure it hasn’t frozen, Gupton said. “If you have outdoor electricity, there are heated water bowls. It’s just enough so that it keeps the water from freezing.”
Monetary donations may be mailed or dropped off at the SPCA of Martinsville-Henry County, 132 Joseph Martin Highway, Martinsville, VA 24112, or call (276) 638-7297.