The plight of abandoned pets might seem overwhelming, but human compassion can make a difference.
Heidi Eden believes that, as do many fellow motorcycle enthusiasts, all of whom will take part in the annual Ridin' For Rover on July 15.
Registration fees for the motorcycle ride are donated to the Tri-City-based Pet Over Population Prevention organization.
Eden, office administrator at Kennewick's Full Throttle Motorcycle store, is passionate about helping the nonprofit agency come to the aid of hundreds of homeless pets.
"We chose POPP to be the beneficiary of this event because the incredibly hard work they do is done solely by unpaid volunteers," Eden said. "It would be easy for them to turn the other way and assume someone else will take care of the problem."
Instead, POPP volunteers juggle their volunteerism around work, families, children and other obligations, she said.
"The work POPP does in our community prevents the suffering of untold numbers of unwanted pets," Eden said. "Many people avoid kill shelters because they don't want to face the truth, witness the suffering or even recognize the problem of (pet responsibilities). The folks at POPP work hard to increase awareness and alleviate the problem. That is commendable and worthy of help."
Eden, who has two dogs and four cats -- all rescued from animal shelters -- admits to having a soft spot in her heart for mistreated animals, and a jaundiced attitude for those who mistreat them.
"My oldest cat is a 12-year-old named Baxter. Friendliest cat I ever owned," she said. "I adopted him from when he was 9 months old. His former owners had relinquished him to a kill shelter because they didn't like the way he meowed."
Registration for Ridin' For Rover starts at 9 a.m. July 15 at Full Throttle Motorcycle store, 135 Vista Way, Suite E, in Kennewick. The ride leaves at 10 a.m. and will go 130 to 150 miles. Cost is $20 for rider, $15 for human passengers and free for canine passengers. Participants can register early at Full Throttle or call 783-7595.
Riders who plan to bring their pets should be properly equipped with seat belt, helmet and goggles -- or doggles, as Eden calls them.
Participants also are asked to donate any kind of pet supplies.
POPP, formed by Molli VanDorn of Pasco in 1995, is dedicated to promoting responsible pet ownership as well as preventing the needless death and suffering of companion pets.
The agency placed more than 400 pets last year and is well on its way to exceeding that number this year. Volunteers also are caretakers for abandoned dogs and cats until suitable homes can be found.