A night in the kennel

Published 12:06 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2016

One man’s Thanksgiving sacrifice raised more than the $12,000 he was hoping people would donate. Lunenburg County Animal Control Officer Ray Elliott spent the night in a dog kennel at the animal control shelter from 6 p.m.-6 a.m. Thanksgiving night, rather than spending time with his family.

Elliott made the sacrifice to raise funds to spay and neuter the animals of low- income families from Lunenburg County. His “Ruff-N-It” event took place in conjunction with Southside Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and local veterinarians.

Elliott had no bed, blanket, food or luxuries during his night in the kennel.

“I’ll tell you it’s a lonely six or seven hours in the dog kennel by yourself,” Elliott said. “The isolation is horrible. It’s disturbing that people don’t realize when you dump an animal out,

they don’t have anything unless they can find a way to someone’s house or if a good citizen … calls animal control to pick the animal up.”

He emphasized the importance of animals having a warm place to stay. The Lunenburg County Animal Shelter does provide a warm place for the dogs and cats, as well as food and care.

“They come over to our facility and they are a whole lot better off than when they are dumped off in the wild,” Elliot said.

However, he emphasized that “animal control is not an ‘out’ when people don’t want the animal anymore.” He said when you own an animal, it’s your responsibility until it dies.

“We as … animal owners need to step up to the plate and get our animals spayed and neutered,” Elliott said. “If we can promote spay and neuter, that means a lot of animals will survive because we won’t over-flood the market with little puppies or kittens and then the older animals that are at the shelter, then they have a chance to be adopted.”

Elliott said he reached his goal of $12,000 — $1,000 for each of the shelter’s 12 kennels — around 8:30 a.m. Friday morning. At this point, he has raised $12,300 from a variety of donors. He said about 14 people visited him during his night at the kennel and the remainder of donations came from pledges, mailed in checks and online donors.

The animal control officer’s Thanksgiving effort will cut down on expenses for both animal owners and the county.

A small fee will still apply to owners, but assistance with transportation will be available.

“It’s not recognition for Ray Elliot or Lunenburg animal control; it’s recognition for the overpopulation of animals that we’re dealing with.” Elliott said. “We’re here to help the situations that arise in the county and be able to help educate our citizens about the pros and cons of owning an animal.”

Elliott said animal control hasn’t discussed future fundraisers yet, but he would absolutely be willing to partake in this event again next year.

“If the community is supporting it, we’ll step up and do what we need to do,” he said. “It’s a great time to raise awareness about the situation of overpopulation of dogs and cats in our area that we really need to address.”

Donations are still being accepted, are tax-deductible and can be made online at www.southsidespca.org or by mailing them to P.O. Box 66, Meherrin, VA 23954. For more information, call (434) 917-9065.