Expo: Pet fun, funds

Annual event benefits Henrico Humane Society
Jonsie
Remember where you were on Christmas Eve?

With any luck, you were enjoying the company of family and friends at a meal, carol-singing or other get-together, or attending prayer or worship services. But even if you were stuck at the mall doing last-minute shopping, you had a better Christmas Eve than Stripey the cat.

Stripey was found Dec. 24 suffering from what were later diagnosed as chemical burns from acid.

Transferred from the emergency veterinarian to a Henrico Humane Society (HHS) vet, she underwent surgery to have her tail amputated and a portion of her rear end removed – necessary to her survival because so much tissue had died. To close the wound, the vet also had to utilize skin grafting and extensive laser treatments.

Thanks to Henrico Humane Society volunteers, who visited Stripey often in the days following surgery, the severely injured cat (now known as Flower) is in the final stages of recovery at a foster home. Within a few weeks, she should be spayed, vaccinated, and available for adoption.

Days were numbered
Among other special-needs pets lucky enough to land in HHS foster homes recently are Jonsie the dog and puppies Matilda and Obiwan. When the mother of Matilda and Obiwan was hit by a car and killed, the puppies were still so young that they had to be bottle-fed around the clock.

"Regular feedings throughout the night and day will wear anyone down," says Janie Severance of HHS. "Luckily we have volunteers that love the puppies, and every-two-hour feedings are right up their alley."

Additional puppies in the litter were farmed out to Odessa Rescue, part of the network of other humane organizations and shelters with which HHS collaborates. Jonsie the dog, in fact, was rescued from a Charles City shelter a mere day before he was scheduled to be euthanized.

"His days were numbered," says Severance, "because he is heartworm positive – a very expensive treatment – and full of parasites."

Although emaciated when he was rescued, Jonsie is now in a foster home, where Severance reports that he is "eating everything in sight." After he concludes his heart worm treatment, Jonsie will be ready for a new home. The treatment will cost approximately $1,000 – which Severance remarks seems a small price to pay for such a "handsome" eight-month-old.

Crisis response
But the non-profit, all-volunteer HHS has incurred substantial expenses for Stripey's surgery and recovery and for Jonsie's heart worm treatment – too many to make up through donations and adoption fees.

Fortunately, the 14th Annual Pet Expo is on the horizon.

Henrico Humane Society's biggest fundraiser of the year, the expo (scheduled for Feb. 23 at The Showplace) was founded not only to help with cash flow for expenses such as Stripey's and Jonsie's medical care, but also to provide an indoor venue where families can bring their pets and enjoy demonstrations and exhibits. In addition to featuring puppy races, obedience demonstrations, an agility course and more than 75 exhibitors, the expo will also showcase dogs for adoption.

As Severance points out, the organization has no shelter and relies entirely on donations, fundraisers such as the Pet Expo and its fall counterpart, Bark in the Park, and the efforts of volunteers. "We’ve always [struggled] with finding enough volunteers and funds," Severance says, "to allow us to continue finding homes and vetting these animals in our temporary care at the rate we’d like to."

Despite the struggles, fans of Henrico Humane Society can point to a remarkable list of success stories in the years since the organization's 1991 founding. In 2012 alone, HHS found permanent homes for 311 dogs and 206 cats.

"As a volunteer for HHS, it’s amazing to me that a small group of people is dedicated to car[ing] for every<> animal we can," says Severance, underscoring once more the teamwork that went into saving Jonsie and Stripey.

"We feel so proud that we all pull together when there’s a crisis we can help with."

For details about the Feb. 23 Pet Expo (admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 2-12; additional fees apply for some activities) or to volunteer at the event, call the Henrico Humane Society at 262-6634 or visit http://www.henricohumane.org. The Expo will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Showplace, 3000 Mechanicsville Turnpike.
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