The Gift That Gives Back Part Three: Animal Welfare

It you’ve recently retired to Delaware, within days or weeks you’ll notice: the state is very “animal friendly.” Amongst the beautiful doodles and purebreds walking along the trails and beaches, there are even more mixed breeds – and they’re just as beautiful with stories to discover. 

Delaware to this day remains the only “no-kill” state in the union, achieving a successful adoption rate of 93.9% – higher than every other state, and the only state with actual legislation that protects stray, unwanted and displaced pets from abhorred conditions in shelters, and worse. 

Those “in the know” about local animal adoption can all attest to the generosity of Delawareans and others who dedicate their volunteer work to helping to save animals in need of a permanent home. 

Last winter, for example, during the catastrophic Texas freeze, not only did people lose power, but so did hundreds of shelters that had no way to save their animals. Lo and behold, volunteer pilots flew several rescue missions to save (primarily) dogs and cats, hundreds of which ended up in Delaware shelters. Talk about volunteerism!  

Locally, both the Delaware Humane Association and the Brandywine Valley SPCA (BVSPCA) took in innumerable animals in need, and immediately appealed to the public. Adoption fees were waived or reduced, and “Clear the Shelters” events took place with much success. 

All of this was made possible not only by staff, but strikingly, by countless volunteers who jumped in to help, whether by organizing supply drives, walking frightened dogs or acting as ambassadors in the community to help these helpless animals find homes. 

The need for volunteer help at animal shelters and other rescue organizations never goes away. The overwhelmed staffs are so busy tending to the animals’ care and adoption protocol that it’s even difficult to get someone to answer the phone unless it is an emergency! They keep the shelters clean, give the pets the attention they deserve and crave, counsel interested families – and much more. 

That’s where volunteers come in. Dog walkers. Pet photographers who can capture personalities that win the hearts of adoptive families. Office and administrative volunteers. Event volunteers. Outreach organizers for schools and the community.  

The list of shelter/rescue deficits is enormous, but they keep operating because of the generosity of donors and volunteers who give their valuable time.  

Covered Bridge Trails, a new-ish 55+ Lewes community recently held a supply drive to help BVSPCA with goods (HOA rules did not allow a monetary drive). The response was astounding, and no amount of money could aptly illustrate the neighborhood’s generosity! And it was all anonymous, by the way. The enormous bins that the shelter provided for donations were filled three times within 10 days. Dog beds, cat carriers, new toys, leashes, food bowls – you name it, it was donated! 

That emphasized volunteerism in a different form. People didn’t go to the shelter to lend a hand on site, but they did take their volunteer time to shop for dogs and cats they didn’t know. One resident put it this way: “It was like shopping for my grandkids at Christmas.”  

The shelter was astounded by the volume of supplies the small neighborhood donated. 

Fostering animals is another selfless way to volunteer for animal welfare organizations. Without the full time commitment to take on a pet, volunteer families take in a dog or cat that isn’t suited for the shelter (such as an older pet who’s owner has passed, or a pregnant mom in need of a temporary home until her pups or kittens are weaned).  

Volunteers locally can support animal welfare organizations in a myriad of ways. Events, companionship, fostering, adopting and on-site care. Here are a few to consider here in Southern Delaware. It’s a pawsitive experience! 

BVSPCA Georgetown 

Delaware Humane Association Rehoboth Beach 

Sussex County Animal Association 

Faithful Friends Animal Society (advocacy and legislation watchdogs) 

Cause IQ (database of animal welfare laws, reviews of Delaware organizations) 

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