Angels of Assisi in Roanoke Launches Community Outreach Program

Roanoke, VA - Angels of Assisi is launching a new community outreach program that they hope will save money, time and animals' lives.

Called "Angels in Action," the idea is modeled after a successful program in bigger cities by the Humane Society of the United States.

Chaz Bousman, who heads up the adoption services at Angels of Assisi, needed little convincing when she learned about efforts to take veterinary services into low income neighborhoods as a way to combat the never-ending problem of homeless cats and dogs.

"In the general population across most socioeconomic statuses owned pets are spayed and neutered at a rate of about 80%. The opposite is true in lower income communities whereas owned pets are spayed and neutered at about 20%," said Bousman.

It's a mission that is the heart of Angels of Assisi which made the suggestion an easy one to approve once funding was in place.

"I feel like we missed some of the things right in our own backyard. So this is kind of a way to get into the neighborhood, meet with the people and bring in some very common ground things," said Lisa O'Neill, director of Angels of Assisi.

The idea is to take these services, which include rabies vaccinations, certificates for free spay and neutering and animal wellness information, on the road; servicing people who would otherwise not have the money or the means to get them on their own.

"What I found was that people who live three miles from us can't get here. They don't have a car. Can't take an animal on public transportation. So these people have zero access to quality pet care," said Bousman.

In the end, the thought is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care; tackling the problem of animal homelessness in the same place it oftentimes begins.

"In terms of reducing the population, reducing the intake at area pounds, reducing the number of stray cats you see on the streets... that's where we can make the biggest impact," said Bousman.

This Saturday the group will be setting up shop at Roanoke's Fire Station #5 in order to serve the roughly 1,000 people who live in that neighborhood.

Over the next two days, volunteers will be going door to door - doing some direct marketing using support and branding material that was provided by Member One Federal Credit Union.