We celebrate many things in America during the month of November: Veteran's Day; Thanksgiving; National Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month; and Hero Dogs (although I'd like to say “Hero Pets”!)
Recently the American Humane Association honored dogs and their people during the Hero Dogs Awards, celebrating dogs in the line of duty for law enforcement and the military as well as those canines assisting the blind, the disabled, and many others.
Those of us who are pet lovers enjoy an inspiring hero pet tale, and there's no doubt that the Dog Hero Awards inspire people. Yet, on average nearly three million animals are euthanized every year in animal shelters across the United States. Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, parakeets and many other animals die each day while thousands of others are rescued from kill-shelters, puppy and cat mills, and other death traps. Oftentimes, these animals are older and have been used as breeders for people seeking “easy money” through the propagation of litters. National Mill Dog Rescue specifically rescues puppy mill dogs, both young and old, that have been confined in deplorable conditions; volunteers travel hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles, to bring safety and love to dogs that are neglected and used, many of whom have never had the pads of their feet touch green grass. These rescued, mostly scared dogs are groomed, loved, cuddled, oftentimes for the first time. These rescuers, many of whom are volunteers, are the true heroes, saving animals from exploitation, neglect, even danger.
Saving life for some is the 'game of life.' Whether a hero on the battlefield, as many of our military men and women are, a hero rescuing abandoned, neglected, or unwanted pets as are those involved with animal rescue and welfare, or those creatures who save their 'families,' both humans and other animals, from traumas such as fires, drownings, mental and physical disabilities, or intruders … these heroes need to be recognized, honored, and celebrated. People who adopt pets, especially those who adopt the older or disabled, are also heroes. November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month. Each of us can be a hero to a senior pet in need of a new, loving home. My husband and I recently adopted an 8-year-old Pekingese mix named Lemons; he is still settling in and there are a few issues because he was “an only child” with his previous person, but when Lem licks my cheek with doggie kisses when I return home from work, I know the issues can be resolved.
There are many benefits to adopting an older pet, including (1) most are already house/litterbox trained, and (2) what you see (in size and personality) is what you get. Yet, older animals are less likely to be adopted and therefore may be the ones most often euthanized. You can be a hero and save a life by adopting a senior pet this month! I’m so glad we did! (and this little guy isn’t the only senior pet we’ve adopted over the years…. and likely won’t be the last).
Just as our military men and women are heroes, fighting, often struggling, and dying to keep the rest of us free and safe, so, too, can we 'regular folk' be heroes by saving the lives of animals around the globe. Adopt, volunteer, educate, advocate – step up and be a hero today! The love, dedication, and truthfully the actual life of an animal, is in your hands... mine, too. Let's be the advocate heroes for animals in need today!
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.