THE ANIMAL RESCUE FUND (ARF) last month awarded $145,000 in Grants to Virginia based animal rescue organizations.

In a November meeting, the ARF Board reviewed 40 applications from rescue organizations and determined Grant amounts based on specific criteria.

The awards were announced by ARF President Ursula Landsrath.

Other members of the ARF Board are Cathy Boswell, Mary Johnson, Karlane Kosjer,  Sandal LaRose,  Manisha Morris, Laura Neischel, Wendy Smith and Rhonda Wilkins.

In a letter to the ARF Board  Ellizabeth Dubenitz, President of PEOPLE FOR PETS FOUNDATION wrote, “The People For Pets Foundation is once again very thankful to you and ARF for your incredible grant program. If you only knew how much we depend on it each year! Our small rescue will be ten years old in January. It’s really hard to believe. We were one of the very first rescues to receive an ARF grant. In fact, a then ARF board member told me then that we were the very first group to submit a grant! I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it. Your all-volunteer and very dedicated organization are helping us and others save lives of many, many homeless and neglected animals. You should be very proud of such a success.

Debbie Thomas, who runs PROMISES ANIMAL RESCUE, thanked ARF in these words, ”Yesterday my mailbox had a wonderful surprise for the rescue. When I opened the envelope you brought tears to my eyes. We are so grateful for your generosity. We are so excited as this will be put to really great use. It’s not easy running a rescue, it takes a toll on all, but the dogs need us. I’m so overly grateful for all the support, encouragement but most of all the love you all have for ALL animals. With the help of ARF, you make all rescues shine. We love you so very much for all the hard work that you do to help so many of us.”

Other rescue organizations receiving funds were: The EQUINE RESCUE LEAGUE, THE FAUQUIER SPCA,  The MIDDLEBURG HUMANE FOUNDATION, PEOPLE FOR PETS FOUNDATION, MUTT LOVE RESCUE, OPERATION PAWS FOR HOMES, WILDLIFE VETERINARY CARE, PAWS FOR SENIORS and 30 others.

The Animal Rescue Fund was organized eight years ago and has since distributed over one million dollars to Virginia based animal rescue organizations. Funds were raised at three annual events – CAT & DOG FEST,  ANIMAL NIGHT and CAT NIGHT, and from animal-loving people throughout the year.

2017 was a year of challenges for Virginia rescues. Besides donating $145,000 in Grants at the end of the year. ARF donated $14,500.00 in emergency funds during the year.

Ursula Landsrath points out that, “Simply raising money for rescue organizations is not enough. The need is too great for these volunteer organizations. For example, One unspayed female cat and her mate producing 2 litters per year, even with only 3 surviving kittens per litter, will have 11,801 kittens in 5 years and a staggering 11 million in 9 years.

A lot more needs to be done by our representatives at all levels of government. For example, Tennessee is the first state to have a statewide animal abuse registry. A public record serves as a deterrent for potential animal abusers and can also be used to ensure animals are adopted into loving, non-abusive homes.

Locally, small steps have been taken in the right direction. Virginia now has the nation’s first Attorney General’s “Animal Law” unit. And in 2015, after years of being lobbied by the public and veterinary professionals, the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors addressed the common practice of keeping a dog chained/tethered outdoors in any kind of weather, all day, all night long.

As the law stands now dogs can still be chained 24/7 in temperatures 32F (freezing in winter) and 90F in summer.

Urgent issues needing to be addressed are aggravated cruelty to companion animals, animal fighting, more effective leash laws,  standards for more control of breeding facilities and laws that prohibit the sale of puppy mill dogs at retail facilities. I urge everyone to discuss the problems with their local and state government officials”.

As Gandhi noted, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated “.Humanitarian President  Abraham Lincoln is known to have said these words,” I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights.