“Dog Friends” Help Homeless Dogs
by Mary Wakefield Buxton
Urbanna, Va.— The nicest people I know are members of Middlesex County’s fastest growing organization known as “Dog Friends,” a dog support group. It started last May when five people concerned about homeless dogs in the county met at Virginia Street Café in Urbanna over lunch. The group now numbers 170 members.
Not only local residents are Dog Friends, but many who vacation in Middlesex County (many sport a Richmond address) and care about our county’s homeless dogs. That’s really special.
Dog Friends is a fund raising and volunteer provider for the Middlesex County Animal Facility at Cooks Corner. The group aims for an army of 1,000 citizens who love dogs. We want a Dog Friend on every street, lane and corner of Middlesex County who will watch for stray dogs and make sure they are taken to the shelter so they have a chance to survive and have a new home.
The group is rooted in “Friends for Life,” a fund started in 2002 by Loraine Osborne of Hartfield Animal Hospital. She held a fund-raising event at her home and raised over $2,000 to start a local branch of the tax-exempt charitable “Friends for Life” fund. This fund helps feed, spay and neuter, provide heartworm and flea treatments, and any other medical emergency services that are needed to help our county’s homeless dogs.
The Dog Friends group, which meets at noon on the second Tuesday of each month at Virginia Street Café, has no officers, no board of directors, no minutes and no agenda other than to do all it can to improve life for homeless dogs. The meetings last only one hour so working members can fit helping dogs into their lunch hour. All are welcome.
Dog Friends come from all walks of life—working and retired, lawyers, priests, vets, teachers, laymen, writers, housewives, Republican, Democrat, both dog and cat lovers, county employees, volunteers, residents and out-of-towners—all united for single purpose helping man’s best friend. We all share allegiance to that splendid four-legged species known as “dog” that, for some unknown reason, has for tens and thousands of years provided our species unusual loving protection and devotion.
We focus attention on our homeless dogs in order to interest good people in adopting or fostering our dogs so they have a second chance at life. Dog Friends will even buy a pen for families that would like to give a good home to a dog but have no fenced in back yard.
We hope to build our first Dog Friends dog park in Middlesex County so that dog owners in the area will have a safe place to take their dogs to run and play “off the leash.”
There’s a second need besides private pet owners who need a place to exercise their dogs. Our homeless dogs need a place they can go each day to escape their pens and also run and play off the leash. We want to provide homeless dogs as near the same level of love and care we provide privately-owned dogs.
Dog Friends supports using the publicly-owned land adjacent to the present dog shelter (behind the closed elementary school at Cooks Corner) as a site that could well serve both private and public needs. Since it is close to the animal facility, half of the park could be used to allow homeless dogs to be out of their pens for daily exercise and human contact while, at the same time, the other half of the park could be divided into spaces for both “big” and “small” dogs to play with owners.
A generous benefactor has offered to help Dog Friends fund fencing on this parcel of land. We may need as much as $10,000, which would also purchase picnic tables and benches for the park. Perhaps local garden clubs will help landscape the park? The county has to mow the public land anyway, so that will not add to present expenses. We will need water at the dog park, but running a hose or pipe from the existing nearby water system will not pose a problem.
This weekend tens of thousands of visitors will be attending the Urbanna Oyster Festival. There will be the usual lost and stray dogs left behind looking for help after the festival closes. Dog Friends stands ready to help.
To join Dog Friends, just send a check for $5 made out to “Friends for Life” to Mary Buxton, P.O. Box 488, Urbanna, VA 23175. If you also wish to donate toward the fence in the dog park, please write “Dog Park” on your check. Include your email address if you wish to receive our messages. All contributions are tax-deductible. Our beloved dogs will thank you! Woof! Woof!