We have all heard of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, better known as the SPCA and which includes the New Hampshire Humane Society. But, how many of us know exactly what they do?

The NHSPCA’s story begins over 140 years ago, when a group of concerned citizens recognized that farm and working animals were being treated inhumanely. Around the same time, the State Legislature enacted humane laws to protect “dumb animals” – horses, cows, pigs and all other farm and working animals as well as domesticated animals and pets. In 1872, the Portsmouth Society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals was formed.

Despite the fact that the legislature and concerned citizens were aware of the plight of animals, and fought for better conditions, these benign creatures were still considered to be something less than sentient, feeling beings. Try telling that to your dog!

In the 21st century, the NHSPCA is still working hard to improve animal’s lives. And while they still work on legislative solutions, they also provide a host of important services. Originally founded to investigate animal cruelty, they have expanded their programs to include animal sheltering and adoption, humane education, lost and found services, spaying and neutering of shelter pets, behavior and training and youth programs.

Abandoned or unwanted animals are their primary concern, along with the other services previously mentioned. Their Adoption Center, located in Portsmouth, receives almost 2,500 unwanted, neglected or abused animals each year. These animals receive medical care, nutritious food and the time to find the best possible new home, no matter how long that may take. And of course, the animals are provided with love and compassion from caring employees and volunteers.

The non-profit SPCA relies on private donations and fees for services to continue its good work. On June 14, they are holding a special event known as Paws Walk. This year, because of the COVID 19 pandemic, the event will be a “reimagined” virtual take on this life-saving event. Paws Walk is the NHSPCA’s largest grassroots fundraiser. This year animal lovers are being asked to fundraise by walking at home in their own backyard. A $20 contribution is requested to “walk” for the animals. To register for the event, visit nhspca.org/paws-walk.

The Monadnock Humane Society in Swanzey, the Sullivan County Humane Society in Claremont, and the Windham County Humane Society in Brattleboro are local organizations that are equally committed to animal welfare, and they also rely on donations to provide the services they offer, including medical expenses, food, neutering and spaying, etc. All of these societies are devoted to finding good homes for their rescues. But unfortunately, the pandemic has either limited or suspended their services.

This has prompted the Sullivan County Humane Society to hold a virtual fundraising “Save a Stray” 5K walk, and you can still adopt a cat. Call for more info: (603) 542-3277. Their 24-hour “injured or abandoned” animals hotline number is (603) 558-8349. The Monadnock Humane Society is currently closed and has suspended adoptions, until further notice. The Windham County Humane Society remains open, but by appointment only. You can still adopt a pet, but you must follow the pandemic guidelines, which include maintaining a safe distance and wearing a mask when you visit. Call them at (802) 254-2232.

These humane societies all have the same goals: preventing animal cruelty and providing the important services that are the underpinnings of their greatest message, which is to adopt, don’t buy! Thousands of loving animals are living in shelters waiting for their forever homes, and for the warmth, care and love they deserve.