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February 10. 2013 10:17PM

Animal shelters join together to raise awareness of homeless pets


Sarah (black kitty) and Camden await adoption at the Lakes Region Humane Society. (LARISSA MULKERN PHOTO)

A dozen animal shelters in the state have formed a coalition that will use social media and the Internet to raise funds and awareness about the work they do to save homeless pets.

The group, New Hampshire PetSave, at nhpetsave.org, will host a two-day, online fundraiser from March 21 to 22 with a goal of raising $100,000 on behalf of all member shelters, according to PetSave Founder Anita Burroughs. In an interview last week, Burroughs explained the genesis of PetSave.

Burroughs said last week that she was inspired by a Minnesota initiative that raised money for 3,400 charities.

"I said, "Wow, this is great,' and thought this was something we could do together to benefit animals," she said.

The PetSave project was made possible through grants from its largest benefactor, ASPCA, the New Hampshire Federation of Humane Organizations and the Cogswell Benevolent Trust.

The member shelters include the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire, Bedford, Conway Area Humane Society, Conway, Cocheco Valley Humane Society, Dover, Concord-Merrimack SPCA, Concord, Humane Society for Greater Nashua, Nashua, Lakes Regional Humane Society, Ossipee, Friends of the Manchester Animal Shelter, Manchester, Monadnock Humane Society, Swanzey, New Hampshire Humane Society, Laconia, the New Hampshire SPCA in Stratham, the Salem Animal Rescue League, and the Upper Valley Humane Society, Enfield. Together, these shelters have rescued more than 18,500 cats and dogs in New Hampshire, according to the PetSave website. They provide medical attention and adoption/surrender services and organize low-cost spay/neuter clinics, humane education, ongoing support and training, disaster preparedness education and assist with hoarding and animal cruelty investigations.

Burroughs said the group wants to "shine a flashlight" on the work each does on behalf of homeless animals, and that collaborating through PetSave may provide more opportunities for grants and press coverage.

She said while a time has not been set in stone, the PetSave 48-hour online fundraiser will be promoted at the New Hampshire State House on March 13, when participating members - and one or two pets from those shelters - will join together to publicize the event.

In its first year, PetSave had already raised $17,000 through grants and sponsorships, with the ASPCA as the lead supporter, said Burroughs. "We're just basically an umbrella organization. I'm a volunteer and get no salary, so all the money raised through PetSave goes directly to the shelters," she said.

She said nonprofit groups across the country see the increasing power of social media.

"We want to let new people know about us and what we're doing. I think social media can make a huge difference, and nonprofits that are not utilizing social media will be at a significant disadvantage," she said.

Local shelters such as the Lakes Region Humane Society in Ossipee are already harnessing the power of the Internet through its own YouTube and Facebook pages and online fundraising tools such as helpshelterpets.com, an online animal-themed art and note card store that donates 10 percent of sales to animal shelters of the donor's choice, including LRHS.

More information about PetSave can be found at facebook.com/petsavenh, twitter.com/petsavenh and on Pinterest at pinterest.com/petsave/.


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