April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month and May is National Pet Month, both fitting tributes to the importance of furry friends in our lives. The Humane Society of Missouri spreads the message that we should value and protect animals, and it works year-round to educate people about preventing abuse and neglect.
Earlier this month, HSMO took its popular Bark in the Park fundraiser virtual, changing the name to Bark in YOUR Park to emphasize the fact that this year, people would walk their dogs in neighborhoods and local parks instead of at a single, large event. Participants paid $25 to enter and solicited friends and family to donate as well.
“People posted their photos on social media and took part in scavenger hunts in 10 St. Louis City and County parks as well,” says HSMO special event manager Shana Cook. “The idea was to recreate as much of the in-person event’s fun and enjoyment as possible.”
Cook says this year was the first time the organization staged the event online. “We didn’t do it last year because we were working on another virtual event that combined efforts of different animal shelters across the country,” she says. “That meant we had plenty of time to plan Bark in YOUR Park for this year. We did a lot of research and participated in webinars and Zoom calls to find out what similar organizations across the country were doing.”
Proceeds from Bark in YOUR Park benefit the HSMO Animal Cruelty Task Force, which responds 365 days a year to disaster sites, emergencies and abuse situations like hoarders and puppy mills. “Task force staff members are always on duty, even during the pandemic,” Cook says. “The team logs many miles rescuing animals from danger in all 114 Missouri counties and St. Louis City, and it costs a lot to keep it running. We rely on public support to keep its mission going strong. Events like Bark in YOUR Park are a fun, interactive way to get people involved in raising the funds we need.”
Cook says HSMO acted quickly to restructure its pet adoption processes after COVID-19 restrictions took effect. “We had a very solid year of curbside adoptions and other programs,” she notes. “We have gotten lots of ‘pandemic puppies’ into good homes through our virtual system, but we hope that in the coming months, we will be able to open up more and get back to normal.”
hsmo animal cruelty task force facts
- 10 animal cruelty investigators operate two specially equipped rescue trailers, responding to reports of abuse and neglect year-round.
- Each year, the Task Force handles about 18,000 reports involving 22,000 animals, logging an average of nearly 300,000 miles around the state.
- The team provides expert testimony in court cases and educates the public, law enforcement and state agencies about animal care standards.
- Missouri residents can report cases of animal abuse or neglect at hsmo.org/animalcrueltytaskforce.
Featured image courtesy of the Humane Society of Missouri