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SNC Executive Director, Cary Bernstein's, Remarks at Bone Appetit!

Executive Director and Founder, Cary Bernstein, speaks at Spay Neuter Charlotte's annual fundraiser Bone Appetit!

Bone Appetit! is Spay Neuter Charlotte’s annual fundraiser to raise money to support our current programming and services as well as all the great ideas we are just waiting to implement.

The following are the remarks our Executive Director Cary Bernstein wrote. Give it a read and let me know what us know think!

Thanks to all of you for being here tonight. Clearly, a little hurricane can’t scare this group away.

There are a few folks in the room that I want to acknowledge for their extraordinary work on our behalf. First the Spay Neuter Charlotte Board of Trustees and our amazing medical and administrative team. The entire staff is listed in your program but I want you to know the folks that are here tonight.

  • Dr. Welch
  • Dr. Jenna Blake
  • Dr. Kim Ackerman
  • Dr. Molly Foley
  • Billie Richardson, Operations Director
  • Hillary Fleming, Rescue and Patient Services Liaison
  • Nora Allendale, Pineville Clinic Manager
  • Nicole Hash, NoDa Clinic Manager
  • Lauren Gibilaro – Project Manager

Tonight I would like to talk to you about the idea of possibilities. You just heard from Dr. Welch about how much we, as a relatively new non-profit have accomplished in a very short period of time. Our work has made it possible for thousands of pet owners living in our region to provide care for their beloved dog or cat.

You, our supporters have made this possible by at first believing in me. Many of you attended the “Sneak Peek” back in 2011 when Spay Neuter Charlotte was basically a big idea and a dream. And look where we are now. As I have said in jest but actually really mean it , we are on the way to Global Domination.

A projected $1.4 million in revenue this year, two clinics doing 1000 spay neuter surgeries each month, weekly wellness that on a regular Wednesday in our North Davidson clinic serves over 80 patients, Charlotte’s only Pet Food Pantry which provides emergency assistance for pet owners facing financial hardship, and a partnership with Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department’s Animal Care and Control to provide free surgery and medical treatment to pet owners who have no money for these services. All of this tangible proof that the work that we do is having a huge impact on animal welfare in our community.

And there is more to come. In 2016 we will open a third clinic in the Lake Norman/Mooresville area made possible by a partnership with the Iredell Humane Society. Their Executive Director Lori Root and Board Chair, Lee Smith are with us tonight.

Another 2016 initiative is an urban transport as part of our larger outreach program.

Thanks to Apparo, the non-profit arm of Microsoft we were given the opportunity to form a partnership with an "in-demand" development shop called Skookum (spell it).

Skookum works on mobile apps, hardware for "internet of things" and a number of products for growing companies nationwide. By the way, Skookum is Chinook for “cool, strong, trustworthy, brave-hearted and bold.” Now I kinda wish I had named Spay Neuter Charlotte, Skookum.

The urban transport initiative will make it possible for us to provide services to pet owners who can’t reach us either because of their work schedule or limited transportation options. Instead of having to bring their pets to our clinics the urban transport will pick up these pets at a convenient location.

The Skookum team (including Chris Manly who is also here tonight) are working lockstep with us to develop new software for an internet-based transport module, the first of its kind in the country. The new software will enable these pet owners to schedule their appointments online and will give us the ability to streamline check-in for these patients by using a newly developed mobile application. Stay tuned, hopefully there will be awards to follow.

Clearly, we are industry leaders, game changers, improving the lives of countless animals and the people who love them.

But there is an even greater possibility. And that is to end the euthanasia of homeless pets in our community. I will say it again, ending the euthanasia of homeless pets in our community.

What does that mean? The sad fact is that each year thousands of homeless, healthy adoptable cats and dogs are killed in our local shelter because frankly there just isn’t enough space to keep them alive. Terrible, needless, and preventable deaths happening in our region year after year.

We, at Spay Neuter Charlotte have decided enough is enough. Up until now we have focused our work on providing services for the pet owners who need us most but now we are ready to turn the considerable force of our will - to solving this problem.

With your support Spay Neuter Charlotte would like to introduce four new programs that will move the dial forward to lessen the number of homeless dogs and cats dying here each year.

Here are the possibilities;

A full service seven day a week veterinary practice to make it possible for pet owners who can’t afford private veterinary medicine to have a place to go for medical care and sick visits. We know that if a pet owner can’t provide care for their dog or cat they are more likely to be surrendered to a shelter.

A clinic-based initiative to trap, fix and return feral cats. Feral cats, those who live on their own in the wild, represent the largest number of animals euthanized at the shelter. If we had the funding to underwrite the cost of these surgeries we would be able to make a significant impact on the number of feral cat colonies in the community and drastically reduce this euthanasia statistic.

A website to promote adoptions from our regional rescue partners. Animal rescue groups in the region are doing lifesaving work, pulling thousands of dogs and cats each year from high kill shelters. Marketing these saved dogs and cats can be tricky and time-consuming. But we know that the faster their animals are adopted the more these groups can save. We could significantly improve rescue group adoptions through the creation of a state-of-the-art cooperative website to promote the adoptable dogs and cats in this region.

And lastly we want to host a behavior hotline – sounds a little crazy but it is an effective tool in retaining animals in the home. The hotline would be a resource for pet owners who need education and training support to solve behavior issues that might otherwise cause them to surrender their pet.

Many of these programs have been implemented in other communities across the country and the statistics show that they work.

Before I close I want to tell you a true story that will make clear why this is so important to us and should be for our community.

Several months ago a little puppy, “Lulu,” came to the clinic to be fixed. Her owners were uneducated, really didn’t know how to treat her. They kept her outside on a chain. Honestly they didn’t know better. When she came in she looked pretty bad, she was underweight, had fleas and some very treatable skin issues. We fell in love with her. Although she was clearly suffering, she was a happy, tail wagging, lick your face kind of dog.

After she went home we reached out to one of our rescue group partners to see if they would check on her and offer support to the owners. The rescue group helped the owners recognize that they weren’t in a position to provide proper care for Lulu and the family agreed to surrender her to the local shelter. The rescue group planned to immediately pull her from the shelter, had already lined up a family to take care of her until they could get her adopted.

Her owners took Lulu to the shelter on the appointed day but before the rescue group could get there to reclaim her, the Shelter euthanized her. She was an underweight, part pit bull puppy with bad skin that they decided couldn’t be adopted so they put her down. A puppy. So senseless.

There were so many points along the short journey of her life where we could have provided resources for a better outcome. An outcome where right now she would be living in a home with a forever family.

We believe that Lulu deserved this possibility. Lulu and the thousands of other dogs and cats who’s stories you don’t know. We need you to help us make this possible. There are pledge cards on table for you to make a generous donation tonight to support the services we already provide and the programs that we want to make possible to end the euthanasia of homeless pets in our community.

Thank you.

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