Santa paws

By Eleni Collins - November 29, 2007

For pets, the holiday season can be a time to drool over extra large bones or go ape over catnip. Maybe your cat will receive a stocking full of tarter-control treats and your dog an extra long walk on the beach.

Over 15 animals are currently living at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelter in Edgartown, and the staff and volunteers are busy working hard to raise money to make sure they receive the best possible care during their stay. This holiday season, the shelter is carrying on traditional events and beginning new ones that can be great gift ideas.

Similar to the M.V. Hospital's fundraising tree, the Island's MSPCA will light their first Tree of Lights this Saturday, Dec. 1. The tree is part of a holiday fundraising drive, "Paws to Remember," in addition to a Santa Photo Day, "Paws to Adopt" during Christmas in Edgartown the following weekend, and "Lasting Impressions," a new brick campaign.

Jen Morgan
Jen Morgan, MSPCA projects coordinator, shows off the new bricks with two canine friends. Photos by Lynn Christoffers. Click photo for larger version.

The tree, which was donated by Donaroma's Nursery, will be lit with bulbs purchased in honor or in memory of a special pet. Bulbs can be purchased for a $10 donation to the Island shelter, and the tree will remain lit at the MSPCA until New Year's Day.

"The tree lighting ceremony, for $10 a bulb, we don't know, will we sell 10 bulbs or 100? We're more concerned with showing the community we're doing these events," says Ron Whitney, the Island MSPCA's manager. "The awareness is much more important. We don't expect to build a new facility from the tree lighting ceremony, but we want to make people aware of it."

There will be a list of those who purchased lights and their pets' names in a future edition of The Times.

The other new fundraiser is "Lasting Impressions," a commemorative brick campaign, similar to that in Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs. The bricks have already begun to form a walkway at the shelter, and there is room for many more. Ideally, the shelter would like to cover their front walkway, which would take approximately 1,000 bricks. The cost per brick is $100, three for $250, and five for $400. And the MSPCA guarantees them forever; they will be replaced if damaged, at no extra cost.

commemorative bricks
Looking for a holiday gift? There is still plenty of room for more commemorative bricks to be added to those already laid in front of the MSPCA. Click photo for larger version.

The funds raised from all of the holiday events and the ongoing brick project will benefit the animals there now, and those that filter in throughout the coming year.

"The funds raised don't go to the MSPCA in general. They go to the Vineyard branch of the MSPCA. We have seven other shelters, two hospitals, and a law enforcement division," says Mr. Whitney. "Our hands are involved in a lot of different things, but our contributions raised here help us [the Island shelter] to survive."

Along with approximately 15 cats and a couple of dogs, the shelter is also home to a dwarf rabbit and a teddy bear hamster at the moment.

The MSPCA is a private, non-profit organization. It receives no federal or state funding, and relies on community support. For more information on any of the fundraisers, on adopting, or on the shelter itself, call 508-627-8662 or visit