I am alone in my wanderings for a long time, but it hadn’t always been so. I have vague memories–little scraps of images–from the past: the tumble and tussle of warm fur, the shimmer of sun on my brother’s back, the freckle on my sister’s snout. We grew up and dispersed, given away from a box in a grocery store parking lot to anyone who would take us. We were held up and cooed over, and carried off under various people’s arms.
The person who took me changed his mind, tied me up in the back yard for months–with intermittent water and food–and then finally took me on a car ride and left me on the side of the road. I’ve been fending for myself since then. Sometimes I’m thirsty, sometimes I’m cold, often I am hungry.
This morning, a man saw me, stooped down and called to me. I approached him warily and then darted away. I have trouble trusting people. I just spotted him again. He is carrying a bowl that smells heavenly.
He sits quietly beside the bowl and I approach, then back away, then approach again. With one last sideways glance at the man, I lean toward the bowl and begin to eat. The man reaches out his hand and strokes my fur, first tentatively, then steadily. His voice is kind. When he slips a lead around my neck, he bends down to my level and says, “Come with me; we will find you a home” I go with him, to the first warmth and comfort I’ve known in a long time.
What does it take of us to help an animal in need? A bit of time, perhaps, and some inconvenience. We’ve helped one animal to suffer less. This small victory does not have a widespread impact, but it certainly changes the world for that one animal.
It’s easy to bypass an animal in distress, a lost dog, a stray cat, injured creature, a starving animal. It’s easy to turn away and to assume that others will do something. Most of us don’t do anything. It requires giving of ourselves or our time in some small capacity, and we’re busy, busy, busy. I believe that each time we turn away, some small portion of our humanity is eroded.
Years ago I made an agreement with myself: when I see an animal in need, I will do whatever I can to remedy the situation. I’ve found that “whatever I can do” is generally more than I had originally thought. This has led me to capture stray dogs and humanely trap stray cats and deliver them to the SPCA, to gently instruct children and others in kindness to animals, to intervene when I see human cruelty to animals, to become a vegetarian, to inconveniently arrive late at meetings when I’m rescuing an animal. I sleep better at night for all this.
My dream is to have a widespread impact on humane treatment of animals. If each of us engaged in some small gesture of kindness, of help toward animals, so much suffering could be reduced. Will you join me?
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From the comfort of your living room, you can have an impact on humane treatment of animals. This is part I in a series that provides ideas on how to do so. Today’s topic is the hundreds of thousands of homeless, unspayed/unneutered dogs and cats in the South.
Several thousand rescue dogs are transported yearly from the South to the Northeast for adoption. Why? The cultural norm in many places of the South is not to spay and neuter, and in many places, not to inoculate pets against disease. There are millions of homeless dogs wandering around—and starving—in the South. There are several thousands in high-kill shelters, because adoption is not a common practice either.
You can do something about it. Cultural norms are shifted over time through the steady application of change. For example, remember how we used to call humane organizations “pounds” and homeless pets “strays”? That gradual shift away from “pound” has had an impact on how people perceive humane organizations, and the introduction of the word “rescue” to adopted animals positions the rescuers to have the added benefit of feeling good about themselves.
But back to the Southern dogs. I was told by owner of Main Line Animal Rescue that the way to make an impact on treatment of dogs from the south is to write letters to the editors of the papers there. Below is a sample letter you can use or adjust as you see fit. Search this link ( http://www.50states.com/news/ ) to identify newspapers. Copy/tailor and email the letter to the editor—be sure to include your contact info, or the editors will not publish the letters. Thank you!
I have a friend who had good fortune to adopt a sweet dog from Alabama via a Pennsylvania animal rescue. “Finn” is a hound mix and is doing well despite a rough beginning: unneutered, homeless, and unvaccinated, Finn contracted distemper, from which he has recovered, despite lingering gait issues.
I’ve learned that in areas, spaying/neutering, and vaccinating pets are not always common practice. Yet pet overpopulation is rampant, and in many states hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats are homeless and die slowly from starvation, disease, and injury. You can help prevent pet overpopulation and suffering.
Please consider the benefits of spaying and neutering—this prevents unwanted animals from being born, improves the animals’ disposition, and is not perceived as loss by the animals. Here is a link: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/low-cost-spayneuter-programs where you can find low-cost clinics in your area. Alternatively, please consider asking your local vets to provide this community service, for the good of the animals and the community (and good PR for the vet).
Cats make up approximately 70% of shelter population. It’s sort of obvious what you should do…ADOPT! Don’t Shop! There are many advantages when it comes to adopting cats from shelters. Many are already spayed or neutered. They are also current on their shots. Shelter volunteers are there for one reason: the good of the animal. They aren’t interested in a profit and any donation you make goes right back into helping more animals in need. I love cats, how about you?
by Julie E.H., Animal Rescue Site blog