SILVER SPRINGS, N.Y. — People and businesses in Wyoming County came together in a big way to help the Animal Friends of Wyoming County, as well as the dogs and shelter the non-profit supports.
The volunteer group holds regular fundraisers to help pay for dog food, spay/neuter procedures, and other medical and dental care. They sell candy bars and calendars, but they knew they'd have to do something bigger to raise money for a dog playground.
Their initial goal was $10,000 for all of the equipment.
They started a fundraising campaign at the beginning of March 2020 — then the COVID pandemic hit, so they thought their plans would have to go on the back burner. Much to their delight, they were wrong.
"Even in the midst of the pandemic people were still donating large sums of money," said Samuel Goodell, president of Animal Friends of Wyoming County. "We thought maybe it would take a couple of years to get this done, but it was [quick] — even through COVID — we were very in shock, surprised."
They raised $12,000 in about one year, which was enough for the playground and some left over for other expenses at the shelter.
"Dogs touch people's hearts," said events coordinator Ginette Murray. "I think it's pets and children. I think it's amazing that people will go above and beyond. Animals give us so much joy and love too. You can really see it [with their donations]."
The group installed the playground this past summer, and it's more than just a place where the animals can work off their energy. It also gets them ready for adoption.
"It helps them with their stress, with their anxiety, helps them with their social skills, and if we can utilize that to help them get a better home, we're all for it," Goodell said.
The volunteers say the playground is a great spot for people to meet and bond with their potential new pet.
"It's a lot better than peeking through a cage," said Animal Friends of Wyoming County treasurer Saundra Mayle. "When the families come, they can take them out to the playground and get to know the dogs. It just brings them closer together."
The ramps, steps, and tunnels help dogs come out of their shells and prepare them for their new life in a new home.
"There are some dogs that come in here that can't even go through a doorway just because they are so scared and so frightened," Goodell said. "We want them to be the best that they can be, the most adoptable they can be."