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Dog days ahead

It’s that time of year again. The dog days of summer. In the case of the annual SPCA run, it is also the cat, gerbil and even iguana day of the summer. Each year the Wyoming Valley Motorcycle Club runs a charity ride that benefits the SPCA. People from all over bring their bikes and ride to help raise money many of the things that the SPCA is in need of.

This year’s ride will take place on Sunday, June 14. It is the 13th year for this ride. As always, it starts at the SPCA and will wend its way through the valley ending up at Bentley’s Restaurant on Route 309 in Ashley. Regarding the end of the run at Bentley’s, the WVMC Public Relations Officer Guy Izzo is very positive that things will be safe for all motorists.

“As with any event with a large attendance, safety is always a concern,” he said. “With the help of the Ashley Police Department and traffic control, we do not anticipate any problems.”

Entertainment will be provided by the band Strawberry Jam. A $10 donation is requested for the ride. All vehicles are welcome to ride in this parade. Some people even bring their pets.

SPCA Executive Director Vince Sweeney was kind enough to show me around the SPCA on Monday to get a feel for just how important this event is for all of the animals housed there and for the wonderful staff who help feed and take care of all of these pets. I don’t know how I got out of there without taking at least one dog and a cat home with me. One look at those faces in the cages was enough to break even the hardest of hearts.

“There were some officers that were on the Luzerne County SPCA board,” Izzo explained. “Ed Gross, who has been a club member, was the SPCA director of development at the time of the first run.”

The club has been committed every year since.

“The Luzerne County SPCA does not receive any state or federal funding; they totally rely on private donations,” said Gross, committee chairman of the ride.

And Vince backs this up, reinforcing how important your contributions are to this organization, saying, “All the money from this benefit ride goes into the general fund. It helps us keep the lights on and pay the staff.”

Vice tells me that “our only support is from philanthropy.” He realizes, as does any organization that is funded by giving, that the economy is down. But he says “people have been giving.”

Sweeney said that last year the SPCA took in more than 7,000 animals, and that feeding, housing and vaccinating them can cost up to $40 a day per animal. He said the donations “allow us to keep doing what we’re doing.”

In recent months, other local animal shelters have closed, including Monroe County’s last week. Neither Columbia nor Montour counties have a shelter. “The one in Danville is now a PASPCA and has a highly selective admissions policy,” Sweeney said.

“We never refuse any animal,” he added. “We do like it if people could make an appointment to surrender their pets so that we know we have a space available for them.”

By the way, Vince let me know that June is adopt a cat month. There were a lot of cats at the SPCA when I was there. Quite a number of cute kittens; one lucky one was being adopted while I was there.

“Cats are the biggest challenge,” he said. “People just don’t want them as much as dogs.”

There is also a program that helps people with lower incomes to get their pets spayed or neutered. If you can prove that you are on some form of public assistance, then you can have your cat taken care of for only $20. Vince said the SPCA has done “several hundred under this program.”

Vince tells me that he appreciates all donations and that the Del Monte Company from Bloomsburg donates a lot of the food necessary to feed the animals. There is a wish list on the Web-site ( www.spcaluzernecounty.org) where you can see what the SPCA needs. But what it needs most is cash. Vince wants you all to “come on out and really have yourself a blast. Without this community’s generosity, we’d be gone.”

So Scooter Dog Tank wants you all to get on your bikes and ride. You’ll be doing a good thing.

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