Photo courtesy of Animal League of Birmingham.
A runner finishes at the Animal League of Birmingham’s annual Paws for the Cause fundraiser.
The Animal League of Birmingham does not have a building, and it does not take in pets, but last year it helped serve more than 800 dogs and cats.
Rather than help individual pets, this Shelby County nonprofit helps support animal rescue groups and shelters in Birmingham and surrounding areas, and its lack of a home base means more animals can benefit.
“We’ll probably never have a facility,” said Peggy Cropp, who serves on the league’s board and as its president. “We are able to therefore use all of our money strictly for our cause, and we don’t have to pay rent; there is no overhead.”
The Animal League of Birmingham started when a lack of manpower meant Paws for the Cause, a 5K and fun run benefiting the Shelby Humane Society, almost couldn’t continue. Donna McFeeters, a co-founder and treasurer for the league, said their organization came together to continue the event.
In 2014, the Animal League raised $10,000 to go toward spaying and neutering at the Shelby Humane Society. After that donation was made, the humane society called to say they had a matching donor, so they received $20,000 in total for their spay/neuter program.
“That was probably one of our best moments,” Cropp said.
The seventh annual Paws for the Cause took place in October, and they used the money to improve the lives of animals — 100 new beds, one per kennel, and high-quality food were purchased.
“To me, the money that we got from that race this past year and the year before were the most powerful donations we’ve ever made to Shelby Humane Society,” Cropp said.
While Paws for a Cause benefits the Shelby Humane Society specifically, the Animal League holds several events throughout the year that benefit multiple nonprofits.
“We didn’t really get into this to be a rescue,” McFeeters said. “We want to help rescues. We know sometimes they take in animals that need medical care, and they don’t have funds for the medical care, or rescues that get in a bind and need food and don’t have the money.”
When a shelter or rescue is struggling, the group is also able to help rescues and shelters quickly, Cropp said. One shelter was in need of donations, and Cropp said they were able to quickly get $1,000 to them.
“There was no grant process. It didn’t go on for days, weeks,” Cropp said. “There weren’t animals starving, waiting for that to happen. It was literally an overnight vote we took.”
Functioning this way is necessary with shelters, Cropp said. Sometimes, a shelter’s need is immediate and they cannot wait for a fundraiser or donor.
“A lot of times their cries for help are not well thought out, meaning sometimes it’s an overnight, desperate emergency SOS,” Cropp said, “and that is where we are very beneficial to their organizations.”
The Animal League currently has about 30 members, but March is their “Friends and Family” recruitment month. They hope to add 20 new members in 2016.
“We’re always looking for more members because the more manpower we have, the more we can do and the more money we can raise,” McFeeters said. “Then, the more money we can give to organizations to help them.”
Volunteers organize and work at events and meet once a month. The volunteer work is fun and rewarding, Cropp said, but participating is about more than just loving animals.
“Everybody says, ‘Oh, I want to join because I love animals,’ and that’s fantastic, but you need to be willing to get dirty, too,” Cropp said. “We don’t mess around.”
Cropp and McFeeters said if people are looking for a way to help out, they also encourage people to volunteer at shelters.
“It takes people to come and volunteer,” McFeeters said. “An animal is a lot more desirable if they’re clean, if they don’t smell. If they’re healthy and look good, and if you go into the shelter and volunteer, even if you just go and walk dogs, they’re happier.”
For more information about the Animal League of Birmingham, visit theanimalleagueofbirmingham.com or find them on Facebook.