In one of my early budget updates, I erroneously stated that the municipal budget funded Animal Control and Animal Welfare. By state statute, the Town is required to fund Animal Control, however the New Fairfield Sherman Animal Welfare Society (NFSAW) is a not for profit organization that relies strictly on donations to provide services to our community. An astute reader pointed out my error, and also why it matters. It is important for the community to understand that there is no public funding for the shelter and that every donation makes a difference.
Led by Manager Kristen Barnum, Assistant Manager Laura Shuberth and Caregivers Liz Nhep and Jay Daniels, a team of volunteers assists with the care of approximately 150 animals per year. NFSAW is a no-kill shelter that accepts pets for adoption from out of state shelters as well as from local sources. Local dogs and cats may have been surrendered by owners that can no longer provide care for their beloved pet or may come to the shelter as strays. The shelter also participates in “Trap, Neuter and Return” to help control large populations of feral cats in some of our New Fairfield neighborhoods. These cats are neutered, vaccinated and returned to their homes. Feral cats are most likely to be domesticated if they are rescued before the age of 4-5 months, which is also sometimes possible.
Residents often wonder why there are adoption fees for shelter animals. The $100 fee for cats and $250 fee for dogs barely covers the costs of caring for an animal while in the shelter. These costs include vaccinations, neuter or spay, deworming, flea and tick treatment, heartworm testing, food, shelter (electricity, heat, etc.) surgeries and veterinary bills. Local veterinary practices including Parkland Animal Hospital and Versatile Vets provide services at discounted rates; however medical costs constitute a significant portion of shelter expenses.
How can we help? NFSAW will also be holding a fundraiser this Saturday, April 21. The shelter will be hosting Shred-It at the Stop and Shop parking lot from 9:00 – noon. The event is sponsored by Union Savings Bank, and donations are welcomed. Tax season is upon us, and this is a great time to safely clean out your old tax documents, along with any other papers containing sensitive information! Your boxed items will be shredded on site by Shred-It, a Cheshire CT based company.
If you can’t make it to the event this Saturday, there are other ways to help. In addition to monetary donations, the shelter is currently in need of canned dog food, cat litter, paper towels, bleach and laundry detergent. You may also choose to view the shelter’s wishlist on Amazon.com, donate used electronics, adopt a kennel, shop at amazon.smile.com or drop used shoes in the donation box located at Stop and Shop. To view the full list of supplies needed to care for the animals and details of the programs listed above, please visit the NFSAW website at www.nfsaw.org.
The shelter also depends on a team of dedicated volunteers to care for the shelter animals daily. They feed and socialize the animals in addition to playing outside and going for walks. These generous animal lovers also clean the kennels, launder the bedding and clean the facility. If you are interested, please check out the “Volunteer” tab on the website at www.nfsaw.org, or stop by the shelter to fill out an application. I would like to thank the volunteers and staff who introduced me to some of the animals currently in the shelter, gave me a tour and provided the background for this column. There are a number of beautiful cats and dogs waiting to find their forever home – please consider them when planning to add a pet to your family.
– Pat Del Monaco, First Selectman