When Distant Disasters Cause Local Crisis

September 12th, 2017 | Posted by Karel Minor in Uncategorized

You might not think that a Gulf coast hurricane or New York City terrorist attack would have a direct negative impact on animal shelter operations here in Berks and Lancaster Counties. You’d be wrong.

After the 9-11 attacks, the animal shelter I worked for previously did not receive a check in the mail for 30 days. It was an unprecedented financial set back, and had it not been a fairly wealthy shelter with a few spare million in the bank, it could have been seriously damaging to our work.

Twelve years ago when Katrina ripped through the South, we saw a similar temporary drying-up of donations as people rightly turned their attention and compassion to people and animals in the storm zone. We understood this and we supported this giving by our supporters- with the reminder that they needed to keep supporting us because we are here doing our job every day.  In both these cases, and Hurricane Sandy and many others, we caught up as people remembered the local animals in need and made up for the lull in giving.

One thing we have never faced was a timing like we have right now, with first Hurricane Harvey and then Hurricane Irma. Past events occurred during periods of “general giving” or direct mail appeals.  These can be made up through later donations or the timing of mailings shifted.  Right now we are in the peak registration period for the Walk for the Animals.  More than half of our registrations come in during the three weeks prior to the Walk.

The “usual dip” in donations doesn’t get made up for when it comes to an event like this, because the event comes and goes. Just like in prior disasters, we are seeing the temporary impact.  Registrations dipped exactly as images of the hurricanes and displaced pets and people flooded the airwaves and internet.  Our registration numbers for the Walk are well below our usual numbers two weeks out (the Walk is Saturday, September 23).

It’s the Walk’s 40th Anniversary! The Walk for the Animals is one of the oldest animal charity walks anywhere and has grown from raising $12,000 13 years ago to raising around $100,000 a year now. It’s a critically important fundraiser for us!

Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma may have hit Texas and Florida, but they could potentially devastate us by bringing us up short on our Walk fundraising goals.  We don’t have millions in the bank to fall back on.  If we are a couple hundred registrations short for the Walk, as well as all the pledges those Walkers bring in, it’s a lot of very real money needed for very real animals, right here at home.

We are repeating what we’ve always said following disasters: give to local shelters in Florida and Texas, they need it.  Give to the national groups who are able to go in and set up big temporary shelters and transport animals who need it.  They need it, too.

And give to us or your local shelters where you live, because we always need it.  We are always here and we have work to do every day.  We will be the people who help take in displaced animals from these disaster areas.  And we are the folks who will handle disasters that happen here – if we remain strong with your support.

If you are already registered for the Walk, thank you! But please help us right now by getting a friend to register, by upgrading to a VIP Walker level, and by raising pledge support from friends, family, and coworkers.  Our FirstGiving fundraising page even makes it easy to ask for support from friends around the country.  As little as $10 each from five friends would make a huge (YUGE!) difference! These simple things would not just catch us up, it could put us ahead.

If you aren’t registered for the Walk, join us!  You can be a part of ensuring that we are here and ready to help animals today and tomorrow.  I hope to see you there!

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