Raise awareness for homeless animals. Here’s how

(Southside Daily file photo/Courtesy of Pixabay)
(Southside Daily file photo/Courtesy of Pixabay)

For one week (Feb. 11-17) 14 local animal shelters will be joining forces and taking to social media to educate their communities about animal homelessness in honor of Homeless Animal Awareness Week.

According to the ASPCA, 40 percent of pet owners first learned about their pet through word of mouth.

Community members can join the Facebook event and further their participation by updating their social media with HAAW graphics and using the hashtags #HR4PETS, #HAAW, and #homeslessanimalawarenessweek, according to the City of Norfolk.

The participating shelters are Chesapeake Animal Services, the Chesapeake Humane Society, Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society, Heritage Humane Society, Isle of Wight County Animal Shelter, Norfolk Animal Care and Adoption Center, Norfolk SPCA, PETA, Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter, Peninsula SPCA, Portsmouth Humane Society, Suffolk Animal Care, Virginia Beach Animal Care and Adoption Center and the Virginia Beach SPCA.

Some of those shelters will be offering adoption discounts or holding special events, such as “Fashion Has Gone to Dogs,” hosted by the City of Norfolk at MacArthur Center on Feb. 10.

Individuals are encouraged to follow the Homeless Animal Awareness Week Facebook event for information about adoption discounts and events.

According to a study by the American Pet Products Association, the number of pet-owning homes increased by nearly 5 million in 2017-2018, but only a fraction of those homes found their new pet at an animal shelter or humane society.

This study also identified “word of mouth” as the most common source people relied on for learning about an animal’s availability.

With more than 32,000 animals sheltered in Hampton Roads in 2017, it has never been more important to spread the message of adopting from your local animal shelter, organizers said.

Officials said ending animal homelessness can happen if we think “shelters first.”

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