Armchair Animal Activism (it works)- Part I

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!

your name
address
phone
email

date

Dear Editor,

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).

Respectfully,

[your name]

 

Part II – I Came from the Deep South

(continued from the previous post) … There were 50 of us puppies altogether.  We were taken to vans and placed in crates with food and water and towels–soft and clean smelling.  I was in a crate with another puppy, a little black fellow with brown fur over his eyes and a hunched back.  The 50 of us were each given the name of one of the states.  I was Delaware, and I shared my crate with Kentucky.

Our ride was days long, and along the way we were let us out of the vans on leashes to stretch our legs, wander around, and greet our fellow travelers.  I knew almost all of them by scent.  I looked around hopefully for my sister, but she was not among them.

We arrrived at a farm, Main Line Animal Rescue in Chester Springs, PA, where there were many dogs and cats and people.  I and nine other puppies were separated from the rest because we were sick.  The following day, the 40 other well puppies were taken to a shelter in Connecticut for adoption.

Those of us who remained were cared for gently and nursed back to health.  Our new home was a kennel with a dog run attached.  Four of us puppies were together in our kennel, and there were several others in the room.  We puppies played together and slept together in a heap.  People cared for us gently, lovingly.  It was noisy, and I grew accustomed to the noise, but Kentucky often tucked his tail between his legs and cowered.  I’d go over to him and nudge him to let him know everything was fine but he didn’t quite believe it.

People came through the kennel area, looking into the faces of each of us for which dog to adopt.  Each time a person came through, some of the dogs in the kennel barked in greeting or jumped up against the door of their kennels.  Others of us sat and looked intently into the eyes of the person, communicating: me, me, choose me.

In the three months that passed many of the puppies, as well as other dogs in the kennel, were adopted.  I wasn’t, and neither was Kentucky.  We were relatively happy though–we had food and water, a soft place to sleep, people who cared for us kindly.  … to be continued    Part I