By CAROL ROBIDOUX
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Local Humane Society president Barbara McCarthy couldn't be happier about this year's experiment in getting kids to read for a pet-worthy cause.
This year the Derry Public Library partnered with the Greater Derry Humane Society, raising about $300 for a specific goal – buying pet-sized oxygen masks to be donated to local fire departments.
“We heard that there was a need for such equipment, so we called (Derry Fire) Chief Klauber and asked if it was something Derry could use. He was very enthusiastic, and we were happy to know there was something we could do to help animals in need,” McCarthy said.
Statistically, the tiny pet masks, which come in three sizes, could make the difference between life and death for an animal overcome by smoke in a house fire. McCarthy said some 40,000 animals perish annually in fires around the country, and another 100,000 suffer serious injury.
Getting kids to find sponsors for every book they read really broadened the scope of the project, said McCarthy. Several animal-centric programs were presented to children and adults over the summer, helping residents understand the importance of proper training and care of their pets.
|Barbara McCarthy, left, GDHS president receives a donation|
from Derry Public Library’s children’s librarian Nancy Chase.
She said one advantage of having no bricks and mortar home for GDHS is that all money raised by the organization can go directly toward the care and feeding of animals who are placed in foster homes until a permanent home can be found.
Demand for foster families has been greater than usual, given the economy. As the economy took a turn for the worse, pet shelters around the country noted an increase in animals being dropped off or abandoned in vacated apartments.
“Sometimes people just need a little help with buying pet food – we really try to keep animals with their owners,” McCarthy said.
“But there are desperate people – we just rescued two little chihuahuas who were dumped off Exit 3 in Windham. The male's jaw was broken on the left and shattered on the right, as though maybe he had been kicked. We really don't know what their circumstances are, but they are both fine and, hopefully, will get new homes,” McCarthy said.
“We've named the female Brownie and the male Little Bit – you should see how happy they are now, considering what they've been through,” McCarthy said.
Sometimes the foster care goes so well that it leads to permanent placement, as was the case with Niles and Zoey, a pair of Jack Russell terriers who were orphaned when their master died.
“One of our volunteers, Jutta Kramer, took them in as foster dogs. But she fell in love with them, and decided to keep them both – we actually used a photo of them 'reading' together to promote our summer program,” said McCarthy.
“We found that working with the library created a ripple effect of information – we were able to talk to people about our spay and neuter program, and Lyme disease prevention, which is most prevalent here in Rockingham County – we fielded lots of questions, and when we didn't have answers, we found someone else who did,” McCarthy said.
For more information on pet adoption or to volunteer as a foster family, call the GDHS at 603-434-1512 or send email inquiries to: email@example.com