The Martinsville-Henry County SPCA knocked some of their needs off of their list with the help of two aspiring Eagle Scouts.
Webb Garrett and Jakob Foley both completed their community service projects needed for their Eagle Scout badge at the shelter. Garrett built equipment for the dog park, which the shelter had begun to remodel.
SPCA Board of Directors member Rick Magee was tasked with the job of overseeing the renovations to the park. “What we originally had as far as a dog park was kind of like a hay field … it was not exactly inviting for people to bring their pet,” he said.
Garrett was inspired to achieve his Eagle Scout rank by friends and family. “Being around all of my friends and older scouts just encouraged me to want to get Eagle,” he said. “And then my great-grandpa, Clyde Hooker, was the first Eagle Scout in Martinsville-Henry County so that was also a really big influence to me.”
With a family full of dog lovers, the SPCA was an easy choice for Garrett’s community project. He built several pieces of equipment for the park to give pets an opportunity to run and play. “I chose the SPCA because that’s something that’s been really close with our family,” he said. “I made the ramp out there, I made a bench, I made a picnic table, and a seesaw.”
Garrett achieved Eagle Scout on July 26.
According to Magee, the renovations on the dog park began in mid-May. The old park was grazed, sand was put down, and new fencing was installed. While a lot has been done, there are still more improvements planned. The shelter intends to install lighting, more agility runs, and more signage to the park. The dog park is split into a small dogs side and a big dogs side and is open for the public to bring their pets, so long as they follow all rules. Some of these rules include that all dogs must be vaccinated, and the park can only be used during daylight hours.
Jakob Foley also completed his Eagle Scout community project at the SPCA. “Jakob Foley presented to us, originally, what he wanted to do for his Eagle Scout project and we were tickled to death,” Magee said. “Anytime people are willing to volunteer for the shelter, it’s a win-win situation for everybody.”
Foley redid a large planter located in the shelter’s courtyard, along with pressure washing the walls and removing the rust from the doors.
These upgrades are just a few of the improvements that the SPCA has made in recent months. The shelter has also begun operating a spay-neuter clinic and a low-cost clinic to help relieve some of the pressure on local vets, who are all running on full schedules. “We figured this was kind of a symbiotic relationship where we can support the local vets and they can support us at the same time,” Magee said.
The low-cost clinic will operate on specific guidelines related to income and financial need, and the specifics will be posted on the website once they are finalized. Appointments must be made for the spay-neuter clinic.
Caroline Frith, Director of Operations at the SPCA, said that getting as many pets spayed and neutered as possible is crucial right now. Frith said that right now, they are experiencing a “dog boom” and that the SPCA, the Martinsville pound, and the Henry County pound are all at capacity.
“Right now, we are in the middle of a dog boom,” she said. “By that, I mean everybody’s going back to work, they don’t have time for their dog, they got a dog during Covid. … All of the spay-neuter places had shut down during Covid so all of these dogs that were being given to people that didn’t come from shelters were not able to be fixed. All of those dogs are having puppies now.”
Because of this, the biggest need that the SPCA has now is the need to expand. “We can only take in (so many), and until we adopt one out, we can’t move one in,” Frith said. “We’re limited on space, we’re limited on what we can do to help animals that come through the door. I think, looking to the future, we need to look into some type of expansion of space to be able to take in a little bit more.”
However, these expansions come at a price, and Frith and Magee say that donations have started to become scarce in recent months.
“Donations have been real slim lately,” Frith said. “We put out a plea for bleach and laundry detergent. We are in desperate need of bleach when we have an illness in the building, especially when we have sick cats, we have sick puppies, things like that that come in. We are in desperate need of supplies.”
She said that some of the most needed items at the moment are canned dog food, canned cat food, baby food, canned chicken breast, and bleach.
For those who are unable to help out the shelter financially, the SPCA is also in need of volunteers. “We’re also in desperate need of volunteers to come walk dogs,” Frith said. “These dogs do not get out enough, as much as I would like. They do get out during the day out in the play yards but walking dogs, just volunteers to walk dogs, would make a huge difference.”
To become a volunteer, interested parties simply fill out an application at the front desk with basic demographic information and what they are interested in doing, such as spending time with cats, walking dogs, laundry, and more.
While the SPCA has had great community support and made many improvements, there is still a lot to be done to bring down their workload and ensure that they are able to handle the needs of the animals in the community.