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Help Unwanted Pets Find Homes

If you’re a pet owner, you know how it feels when your beloved pet looks at you with total trust and faith. People who share their lives with dogs know adoration; those who share their lives with cats know acceptance. All pet lovers know humor, and ultimately, they know tears. There is an acknowledged bond between humans and the creatures who love them and the expression of that bond may be greatest among those involved with animal rescue.

In the past, animal rescue consisted mostly of picking up stray dogs and cats taking them to the local pound. When I was a child every stray in my small town knew that I was a born animal rescuer.  Strays inevitably found me and followed me home.  Sometimes the stray found a home with my family and other times friends or neighbors offered a safe home. 

Now, animal rescue has expanded to address the needs of animals caught in war zones and natural disasters, those no longer able to perform in entertainment venues like circuses,  movies or racing and those suffering at the hands of cruel and/or neglectful humans.

The oldest and probably best-known pet rescue program in the United States is the ASPCA. This organization was founded in 1866 to address the cruelties faced by animals then, and it continues the fight today by helping animals in many ways. ASPCA works to pass humane laws, rescues pets from abusive situations, and shares resources with shelters nationwide. The Best Friends Animal Society is an animal sanctuary in Southern Utah that is working toward a time when there are no more homeless pets. There are approximately 1,500 dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, birds, and other animals at the sanctuary on any given day.

Between 8 million and 12 million pets end up in animal shelters across the country every year. Between 5 million and 9 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats). About equal numbers of animals are given up by owners and picked up by animal control and taken to shelter. The National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP) found that less than 2 percent of cats and between 15 percent and 20 percent of dogs are returned to their owners. Most of these returned pets had tags, tattoos, or microchips that helped in the process.

The job of an animal rescuer is not for the faint of heart. According to knowledgeable sources, five out of ten dogs in shelters and seven out of ten cats in shelters have to be destroyed just because there is no one to adopt them. Killing dogs and cats for that reason is very emotional for rescuers. In cases like Hurricane Katrina, having to leave some pets behind because they were too traumatized to be rescued is heart-breaking as well.

Working in a private shelter can be rewarding because most animals are saved and rehabilitated.  However, this process can be difficult, expensive and time consuming.  Volunteers are exposed to animals who have been used as bait in dog fights, others beaten to a pulp, some bred so often that they barely have an ounce of life left in them.  Rescuing these animals is a labor of love but volunteers often struggle with depression and often find themselves despising the human race for what they put these animals through.  Nonetheless, millions of volunteers work for public and private shelters and this type of work is perfect for the lonely and unloved among us.  These animals, as I personally experienced, appreciate every morsel of food, every soft blanket, every toy and every gesture of love.  They seem to forget, for a moment, what they have been through and in gratitude shower the volunteers with love.

The proliferation of no-kill shelters has been welcomed by both animals and those who love them, but all rescuers are adamant that the only real way to reduce the number of homeless pets is for every pet owner to spay and neuter their animals. The Alliance for Contraception in Dogs and Cats is working to develop non-surgical approaches and make them available to pet owners.

Please consider volunteering your time and money to an animal shelter.  Human beings have many options available to help them battle addiction, find a home, buy food for their family but animals do not have these resources.  After donating hundreds of hours of time, thousands of dollars and other resources to human beings over the past 30 years I have turned my efforts to animal rescue.  Why?  Human beings invariably make the decisions that put themselves in harms way and often relapse no matter how much time and money is lavished upon them.  Homeless and unloved animals have no choice in bettering their circumstances.  They have to rely on people like me and you to have even a hope of keeping their life and finding a home.

Check the links below for more statistics and information about pet rescue and pet population control.

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
The oldest organization in the US specifically founded to protect and save animals.

National Council on Pet Population Study & Policy
This organization gathers and analyzes data about the number and disposition of dogs and cats in the United States in order to promote responsible stewardship of companion animals.

American Veterinary Medical Association
A nonprofit that represents over 75,000 veterinarians working in private and corporate practice, government, industry, academia, and uniformed services.

Feral Cat Coalition
Information about the trap-neuter-release method of controlling feral cat colonies
National Humane Education Society
“Our mission is to foster a sentiment of kindness to animals in children and adults.”

A nationwide network and referral service for affordable spay/neuter services.

Best Friends Organization
A volunteer run sanctuary for animals of all types in southern Utah.

Dogs - This article has been reproduced courtesy of © 2007, Davis Virtual Assistance.  Reprints welcomed so long as all links are made live and article and by-line are not altered. Bonnie Jo Davis is a Virtual Assistant and author who enjoys helping others.  She is the publisher of the Fifty Fantastic Dog Recipes and Fifty Fantastic Cat Recipes and is active in dog rescue.  Her passion is to help animals in need to find homes.

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