Helping Rescues and Shelters
Do what you can: adopt, volunteer, donate, spread the word.
Every year, nearly 7.6 million cats and dogs end up in U.S. animal shelters; only half of those animals find homes; the other half is euthanized, according to the ASPCA. This means approximately 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats are destroyed in shelters every year.
These shocking statistics underline the severity of the homeless pet problem, and drive home the need for pet lovers to do whatever they can to help shelter animals.
The first of November began the National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week, but shelters need help all year round. What follows are some suggestions on how you can provide assistance to shelter pets.
The most important step you can take toward helping a shelter dog or cat is to adopt one. Instead of buying a pet, go to www.petfinder.com and search for the kind of canine or feline companion you are seeking. Shelters and private rescues list dogs and cats of all breeds and breed mixes, ages and temperaments on this site. Private rescues can often tell you a lot about the dog or cat because the animal has been kept in foster care for a period of time before being placed up for adoption. City and county shelters might not be able to give you as much information about the pet, but many shelters provide adoption packages to people who adopt a dog or cat, and these often include free or low-cost training.
Most shelters and rescues are desperate for volunteers. Positions that need filling include tasks like office work, pet photography, public relations, attending adoption events, dog training and dog walking. You can spend as much time you like volunteering. Whether it’s a few hours a month or every weekend, rescues and shelters are grateful for any help they can get.
All shelters and rescues are desperate for resources. If you cannot donate money, find out what other items they need. Many shelters and rescues will accept pet food, blankets, carriers, toys, bowls and other pet accessories. If you have gently used items your dog or cat no longer needs, consider taking them to the local shelter. You might also want to buy a gift card to a pet supply chain such as PetSmart or Petco to enable the rescue or shelter to purchase whatever they need.
Spread the Word
Get on the mailing list for your favorite rescues and your local shelter, or follow them on social media. Share postings about pets for adoption with people you know. The more exposure shelter pets receive, the more likely they are to get a home.
Even though shelters are inundated with homeless dogs, they are there to help animals in need. If you see a stray dog, call your local animal control agency so they can catch the dog and take him to their facility. The dog will be fed and given veterinary care, and kept for a period of time so the owner can claim him. In the event the dog is not claimed, he will go up for adoption. You can request that the shelter keep your posted on dog’s status.
Spay or Neuter
Don’t contribute to the homeless pet population by allowing your dog or cat to breed. Spay or neuter your dog, even if she is a purebred. Shelters and rescues are filled with purebred dogs that need homes.
About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.