In July of 2018, Monadnock Humane Society (MHS) answered a call from the Cheshire County Sheriff’s office to help remove a number of pets in an eviction situation in Marlborough, NH. They had no idea what was in store, or the deplorable conditions they would face. 52 Labrador Retrievers and a cat were taken into protective custody at MHS that day. It was the biggest case of hoarding/neglect in the organization’s 145-year history.
From the moment MHS was called to assist, Sharon and Wes Wratchford were there and were part of the group of staff and volunteers who put everything into ensuring that the animals were safe and well cared for. “We joined in to help with the initial intake, helped in the following months by walking and playing with the Labs, and were present during court proceedings,” said Sharon. “It challenged all of us in many ways but, for the next 18 months, MHS never lost focus on helping these animals. Ultimately, these pets were adopted by loving families. It inspired us.”
The Wratchfords, who moved to New Hampshire from Massachusetts after retiring in 2016 from careers in the fast-paced world of for-profit business, decided that they wanted to do something meaningful with their time – something that would align with their passion for animals and the bond animals share with humans. They began volunteering at MHS and quickly recognized what an incredible organization it is - made up of people who work tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of at-risk animals. “We had quite a bit of previous animal welfare experience, working with different organizations over the years, and when we came to MHS in 2017, we immediately knew we were in the right place,” Wes said. “MHS is the main resource in the Monadnock Region where critical, life changing, and often lifesaving, services are available to the animals and people of this community. We feel privileged to be a part of that.” Since then, Sharon and Wes continue to be involved in many ways as volunteers, including dog training, event planning and fundraising, and various committee work. Sharon is also a Board Member and Wes serves as the Chair of MHS' Board of Directors.
The idea to start a fund began with an unshakable belief that all pets deserve to be treated with love – they give us so much and ask for so little. “We both grew up with pets in the home: dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, fish, … and more,” said Wes. “We now have 2 dogs and 4 cats who were rescued…and they're family to us.” Sharon continued “When we hear about or see situations where animals are abused, neglected, or abandoned, it's heartbreaking and we want to do whatever we can to help prevent this.” With a combination of passion for animals and a conviction that they deserve love and good care, Sharon and Wes made a commitment to launch a new anti-cruelty fund at MHS to make a difference in the future for animals in our community – The Wratchford Family Anti-Cruelty Fund.
The Wratchford Family Anti-Cruelty Fund (WFACF) was officially established in September of this year – a fund dedicated to support MHS's anti-cruelty work, the prevention of abuse and neglect, and assistance with animal hoarding cases. Kathy Collinsworth, MHS Executive Director says that “the fact that Sharon and Wes want to ensure MHS has the resources necessary to care for these animals is inspiring. This fund will help us give medical, emotional and physical support to animals in our care – especially those who have come from difficult situations. It will also help fund special equipment so we can document cases for potential prosecution, and transport abused animals safely and securely.”
In fact, in October 2020, the fund was used for the purchase of equipment that will help with animal cruelty/neglect investigations. Collinsworth said that, “Our staff was called in to remove multiple cats from a home. Their eyes and lungs were burning from the level of urine toxins in the air. Thanks to the WFACF, we had the funds available to purchase an ammonia gas level monitor, a PH meter, and a specialized thermometer that will help us document situations should there be a need to record unhealthy living conditions.”
Emily Kerylow, MHS Director of Shelter Operations, is extremely grateful to the Wratchford family for their gift to MHS and the animals of our community. “Their generosity will allow MHS to continue expanding the work of preventing cruelty and neglect to local animals. This fund will allow MHS to acquire resources to assist in the investigation as well as financially provide care for the animals which is often an obstacle in these cases.”
Collinsworth and her team continue to seek funds to support the work of animal neglect/cruelty investigations. “Having financial resources available to cover special equipment and cost of care for these situations is a huge help and a significant gift not only to MHS, but to the 44 communities that we serve,” she said.
Thank you for helping us with this important initiative!