Mid-February is a time when everyone is thinking about love. While love for family, friends and significant others is often expressed with cards, candy and flowers, there is also the love of our four-legged friends that makes this time of year so special.
It isn’t always ideal to take those obligatory walks when the weather is cold and miserable, but for many dog owners the companionship and loyalty that comes with owning a dog is worth all the slippery and snowy morning strolls. However, many dogs are not fortunate enough to have loving owners, and this time of year is especially hard for animals who are often abandoned in the cold.
Thankfully, there are amazing people like Sandy Popp who devotes her limited time to services that protect our furry friends.
Popp, who works in the Maryland General Assembly, is busy in the winter with the legislative session’s long hours and caring for her young daughter but still makes to help animals. Many people don’t realize there are amazing volunteer opportunities with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Popp started out by walking dogs.
“I figured it was a win/win because I love dogs and was able to get in extra exercise and since the environments in the shelters can be very stressful for the animals these walks are really helpful for them,” Popp said.
Even with her busy schedule, “the best part (about volunteering with the SPCA) was that there wasn’t a schedule so I could literally
show up during the hours they were open and pick dogs I wanted to walk,” she added. “I could stay for 30 minutes or for two hours depending on how much time I had that day and their need.”
Popp also she looks forward to teaching her daughter to read at the SPCA. The organization sponsors events where you can bring your child (over the age of 8) to practice their reading — to the dogs! The biggest challenge is making sure you and your child do not fall in love with your attentive reading buddy!
In addition the SPCA, Popp volunteers with the Chesapeake K-9 Fund, which was created about a year ago to support K-9 units in police departments. While the organization mostly has focused on Anne Arundel County, as it continues to grow it is hoping to be able to help
support agencies in jurisdictions throughout the state. For those who are interested, there is a 5K planned for May to raise money to purchase a new dog for a police department, which can cost anywhere between $7,000 and $13,000. The fund is looking for sponsors as well as people to participate in the 5K (which is a very family- friendly event).
So, as the weather gets cold and Valentine’s Day decorations bring either joy or angst, remember that there is nothing as warm as a cold nose and think about taking yourself or your family on a cold walk with a warm friend.