Society campaigns for humane treatment

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, June 18, 2009

Beginning this week, the Suffolk Humane Society is rolling out a new effort at humane education.

Dubbed the “Humane Campaign,” the undertaking focuses on three issues the group identified as most important in Suffolk — adopting pets from a shelter or rescue rather than buying from a pet store or breeder, spaying and neutering pets and unchaining dogs.

“Humane education is one of our objectives to our mission,” said Angela Chandler, the director of the Suffolk Humane Society. “We decided to try for a responsible pet ownership campaign.”

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The six-month campaign will include three Suffolk billboards, commercials on cable channels, and advertisements and inserts in local newspapers. It is funded by the proceeds from last year’s Mutt Strut event.

Chandler encouraged prospective pet owners to look to adopt first when obtaining a dog or cat.

“People just need to be patient in looking for that addition to their family,” Chandler said.

According to the Humane Campaign Web site, more than 100,000 homeless pets are euthanized each year in Virginia alone. Each pet adopted from a shelter helps to reduce that number, Chandler said.

Even if a prospective owner is interested in a purebred animal, shelters can be a good resource, Chandler said. About 25 to 30 percent of adoptable pets in shelters are purebred. The Web site suggests checking back often with the shelter when looking for a specific breed.

“There are so many great dogs at Animal Control and all shelters across Virginia,”

If checking in shelters doesn’t produce any leads, Chandler suggested contacting a breed rescue group. In Hampton Roads, rescue groups exist for cats, iguanas, and dozens of breeds of dogs.

Spaying and neutering pets also helps decrease the number that are put to death. Spaying one female animal can prevent hundreds of her offspring winding up stray or in shelters, the Web site says.

In addition, the campaign is focusing on getting owners to unchain their dogs. Dogs that are kept on chains are more likely to become aggressive, making them a threat to other animals and humans, especially to children who may not realize the danger signs of a dog that is getting ready to attack.

Dogs are naturally social animals and need social interaction to become well adjusted, Chandler said. If they are continually chained, they feel like they are being rejected from the pack. In addition to the dangers, the dogs can become the victims of abuse from humans, the weather, and collars that fit too tightly.

To learn more about the Humane Campaign, visit the society’s Web site at, or talk to a volunteer at one of the many community events in which the group participates.