Last year, an estimated 8 million dogs and cats in the United States were brought to local animal shelters—and the numbers are rising. The economic downturn, coupled with severe cutbacks in state funding, have put an enormous strain on county shelters, forcing many of the animals in these facilities to live in barren kennels on cold, wet concrete floors.
In an effort to address some of the most urgent needs at local animal shelters, the non-profit organization Friends of Shelter Animals (FSA) was created in 2011. FSA helps provide comfort and dignity for animals housed in municipal and county shelters across the greater Los Angeles area.
To date, the organization has donated more than 1,000 blankets, 750 food bowls, 100 cases of canned food, 2,000 toys (which help disoriented animals manage their stress and aggression), hundreds of packets of “Pill-Pockets” (which enable animals who are ill to take their medicine) and much more. All FSA items that can be made by hand, such as blankets and catnip pockets, are designed and created by volunteers.
The group works in partnership with local county shelters, meeting with management and staff at the facilities to assess, prioritize and purchase items of greatest need. Baldwin Park, Downey and Carson Animal Shelters in Los Angeles County are just three of the facilities that have benefited from FSA’s generous donations.
One of FSA’s goals is to help reduce the stress levels of animals that are housed in the shelters—and toys and blankets can do just that. These small acts of comfort can make a huge difference in the pets’ behavior, according to Eileen Hill, an employee at the Downey Animal Shelter, which is extremely helpful at adoption events.
“We are so grateful for the much-needed items FSA has given us,” said Eileen. “We have seen positive changes in our animals, which is so helpful in re-homing them. Not only have they benefited from FSA’s support, but our staff has, too.”
Like so many shelters in Los Angeles, Baldwin Park’s resources are stretched to the limit, making comfort items difficult to justify. And that’s where FSA has made a significant impact at the facility.
“Often times we have large numbers of senior dogs at the shelter,” explains Lance Hunter, Animal Control Manager at Baldwin Park. “The blankets from FSA really make a huge difference in their comfort levels. And the pill pockets are ideal for delivering their medication in a safe and easy manner.”
In just a short period of time, FSA has seen positive changes at its partnership facilities. But it cannot do it alone. In an effort to broaden its reach and secure further support of its mission, FSA is focusing its efforts on development and funding opportunities, as well as in-kind donations.
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To inquire about making in-kind donations or sponsoring a fund-raising event, contact Susan Holcomb at (310) 451-0135.
For media inquiries, contact FSA Media Coordinator Susan Shahoda at (310) 880-2289.