As Wendy Maguire and Jane Reed describe their mission, you can see the heartfelt passion in their eyes and hear the energy and enthusiasm in their voices: “It’s all about the pets.”
“We help the souls who have no voice,” says Maguire. “Ours is a grassroots effort to save dogs and cats from euthanasia through a spay/neuter program.” She explains that this program, in conjunction with Newnan-Coweta Humane Society and the non-profit H.E.L.P (Help End Local Pet over-population) Spay/Neuter Clinic in Newnan, targets the pet over-population epidemic.
Numbers easily illustrate this devastating plight. According to the American Humane Society, 35 percent of pet owners in the United States still do not spay or neuter their pets. The statistics from Pedal for Pets website are equally staggering. Each day more than 70,000 puppies and kittens are born. Each day more than 19,000 enter an animal shelter. Each day more than 11,000 are euthanized. Spaying/neutering a dog saves 4,000 dogs over four years. Spaying/neutering a cat saves 20,000 cats over four years.
Clearly, reducing the number of births has a ripple effect; fewer pets in shelters and fewer pets euthanized. When you adopt a pet, you save one life. When you spay/neuter a pet, you save countless lives.
Reed, a petite and vigorous retired Army Lieutenant Colonel living in Fairburn, is a one-woman show who takes this spay/neuter program directly to low-income neighborhoods in Newnan and the surrounding area: “I knock on doors and educate pet owners about our Targeted Low/No Cost Spay/Neuter Program.” She explains that in many homes, pets are not well cared for and live in harsh conditions. When these pets reproduce, it perpetuates a vicious, never-ending circle that often subjects the offspring to abuse, neglect, homelessness, poor health and possibly euthanasia.
DID YOU KNOW?
….More than 70,000 puppies and kittens are born
….More than 19,000 enter an animal shelter
….More than 11,000 are euthanized
Although the solution appears to be straightforward, reaching the lower-income pet owners and combating their long-held negative beliefs regarding spaying and neutering is not that easy. Reed must gain their trust. Her non-judgmental attitude and friendly approach opens many doors, and some pet owners quickly realize that she is there to help and welcome her. However, for others, it may take more than one visit. “Some owners believe that it is unnatural to spay or neuter a pet; others think it will change the dog’s personality, and many simply can’t afford it. They need to realize that it not only benefits the pet but the family as well,” explains Reed. “They won’t have to worry about the cost and responsibility of feeding and caring for puppies or kittens. Their pet will be less likely to roam the neighborhood.” When she wins the owner’s confidence, she makes an on-the-spot appointment to take the pet to the Clinic for spay/neuter surgery and rabies vaccinations. Reed then places a reminder call the night before the surgery and often transports the pets to and from the clinic herself. She follows up by giving the owner instructions on how to care for the recuperating pets.
All this takes time and money. Reed seeded the program with $10,000 of her own money and has since applied for and received thousands of dollars in grants. The program has become her priority. She’s the first to tell you that there is always something to do: paperwork, visits, meetings, transportation, pet food deliveries and volunteer recruitment and support. Her laptop’s spreadsheets reflect the endless hours she donates. She documents her visits to the targeted homes, how many pets they have and if they have been spayed or neutered. She logs each grant application and result. She is a machine with a system—and Wendy Maguire literally helps make the wheels turn.
Maguire, a Fayette County resident and owner of Maguire’s Family and Friends Restaurant and Irish Pub in Senoia, is an avid bicyclist with an energetic spirit and contagious smile. Her motto, “It’s all good,” reflects her positive attitude. She’s not one to sit back and let others solve a problem; she becomes the solution. When Maguire and Reed met and realized they had common goals and a shared love for animals, they put the package together—Reed would connect with the community and Maguire would help with the fundraising. Since that bond was formed, they have raised over $50,000 in grant monies and served over 500 animals.
Maguire and her son, Robbie, personally kicked off the first annual Pedal for Pets (www.pedalforpets.org) fundraising event last year—just the two of them—biking from Senoia to Savannah to raise money and awareness. This mother/son duo raised $5,400 and laid the groundwork for this year’s ride. This year, the event will be June 7-10th and has 12 riders, including her son Robbie. “We want to keep this event going and growing,” says Maguire. “We know not everyone is capable of completing this ride, but anyone can volunteer and offer monetary support. You don’t have to ride a bike to be a part of Pedal for Pets.”
Another opportunity to join in the biking and fundraising action is on July 14, when the Southside Cycling Club holds a one-day benefit ride. (www.southsidecyclingclub.com). This organized ride of 35, 65 and 103 miles takes riders through beautiful central Georgia, with proceeds going to the spay/neuter program.
Maguire’s and Reed’s goals are ambitious and endless. They are determined to do all they can to maintain and expand this program. Their ultimate dream is to help others across the nation develop similar programs.
“It’s all about the pets.” Maguire says emphatically. “The souls with no voice need all of us to pay attention. We need to speak for them and help them.”
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