December 21st, 2011 by Webmaster
It’s hard to resist puppies and kittens wrapped up in bows, but in this season of giving it’s important to remember all the homeless animals who need loving homes.
It’s estimated that an unfathomable six to eight million dogs and cats enter shelters each year. Half of them, tragically, are euthanized. Most of us cannot even get our minds around the fact that three to four million cats and dogs are euthanized, every year, in the United States alone.
The biggest thing you can do to reverse this trend is to support spay and neuter efforts in your community. Find a good local program and donate your time to help. Become a messenger in your community for spay/neuter programs, by supporting them where they exist, or working to start them where they don’t. Convince your neighbors and elected representatives that funding spay/neuter is the most cost-effective way to help dogs and cats. Write letters to the editor supporting increased public funding for low-cost spay/neuter.
Next best thing you can do is adopt furry family members from shelters, rather than supporting pet stores and breeders. There is no good reason to ever choose a pet store or breeder when so many animals in shelters need homes.
A few important things to remember:
- Be certain you are ready to make a lifetime commitment to your new family member. If you’re a parent getting an animal mainly for your children, be sure you are willing to be the primary caregiver, as children often lose interest.
- Animals given as gifts are frequently unwanted and are returned. If you want to give an animal as a gift, first make sure the future guardian is ready to make the commitment. Give them a gift certificate for a shelter adoption, and then take them to the shelter to see who they bond with.
- About 25% of dogs and cats who enter shelters are “pure-bred,” so if you’re attached to a particular breed, odds are you can find them in a shelter. There are also a large number of breed specific rescues. But consider, instead, a mutt – if you’re looking for love and companionship, the breed is not very relevant.
- If you’re looking for smaller animals, most shelters also have rabbits, rats, guinea pigs and birds. But don’t presume that “small” equals easy to care for – learn the special needs of any species before bringing them into your home.
- Consider adopting an older cat or dog. Shelters have a harder time placing older dogs and cats and they are often the first to be euthanized. There are a great number of advantages with an older animal companion. They have generally already been trained and will be calmer. Black cats are also hard to place due to unreasonable superstition, and black dogs are often bypassed simply because it’s harder to see their facial features in a shelter setting. Tell shelter staff you’d like to meet the cat who has been there the longest, or the eldest dog. The shelter staff will love you!
- If you decide to adopt a dog please consider a vegan diet. Dogs can be very healthy and thrive on a well-balanced vegan dog food.
- Be certain to spay or neuter the new addition to the family. Accidental breeding is one of the biggest reasons for the overpopulation problem.
If you go about it the right way, the holidays can be a great time to add a new family member and to give him or her all of your love!