In honor of friends recently adopting animals and for those rescue groups which tirelessly work to help animals in need, I’ve composed a short story that I hope readers of this blog will enjoy. For truly, I am grateful for pet rescue and adoption!
They came from Canada to meet their new family member. Husband and wife rented an RV and made a holiday of traveling with their young son from Calgary to Sheridan, Wyoming. I drove 160 miles to bring them their new baby: a young male Great Dane. The Canadian family immediately fell in love with the pup, and they thanked me enthusiastically for being part of the team that brought this rescue dog adoption to completion.
I've been part of pet rescue transport for more than five years. Great Danes, Bull Mastiffs, English Springer Spaniels, Boston Terriers – various breeds, various rescue organizations, various adopters, all with a common theme: a story woven with compassion, love, friendship, and gratitude.
The adopters are grateful, the rescue groups are grateful, and the dogs are grateful.
Her name was Jazmine, and she reached my waist simply standing on all fours. This Great Pyrenees was abandoned in a desert where she gave birth to twelve puppies. Each one survived, thanks to a mother's protective instinct, and her tenacity to find food for herself despite the odds waged against her and her youngsters: intense heat, lack of shelter, minimal water and food. Odds were that none would survive. The scars on Jazmine's face spoke volumes to her possessiveness and perseverance. Those claw and bite marks were likely garnered from encounters with raccoons, coyotes, and other predators of young pups. By the time mother dog and babies were discovered and brought into rescue, Jazmine's giant frame was whittled to nearly nothing. After medical treatment for she and the babes, each dog found a new home. I was Jazmine's transport for 200 of her 1,200-mile journey. Thankfulness for the Good Samaritan who found the mother and puppies and gratitude for the rescue group that provided not only medical treatment but also a foster home for them, I accepted the request to help transport Jazmine, the final dog in the canine family to be accepted into the caring arms of a permanent human family.
As we walked around a rest stop adjacent to the interstate, this giant dog, though possessive of her babies to keep them alive, displayed nothing but gentleness toward me. The pony-sized dog leaned her head against my thigh and gazed at me with wondering brown eyes. I caressed the top of her white head and hugged her against me. Gratitude for my small part in getting this formerly abandoned, sweet dog to her new home many miles away overwhelmed me and tears filled my eyes. I could sense Jazmine's thankfulness, too, in addition to her uncertainty. It was like she “knew” she was going home. And she did. A few months later I received a photo of Jazmine with her new family – a man, woman, and two children laughing and smiling in a grassy backyard, hugging their new companion ...and Jazmine with a doggie grin, licking a child's face as she joined in the joy.
To be part of such unions, to play a small role in saving companion animals' lives, to find true purpose in such endeavors – gratitude is one of the many emotions I experience. I receive thanks from all sides, from the rescuer and from the adopter as well as from the dog. But, it is I who is truly grateful to have a role in bringing lives together, in helping to forge a family, bringing four-footeds and two-footeds into a friendly, caring relationship that can last a lifetime.
Theo, a Boston Terrier, needed transport through my home state of Wyoming. His new family lived in Montana, and, like the family from Canada, this couple was willing to drive a fair distance to meet me and their new furry friend. We rendezvoused at the same location where I'd met up with the Canadian couple who adopted the Great Dane, a three-hour drive for me and a five-hour drive for the Montana adopters. Theo sat up straight in the passenger seat of my car, in anticipation and expectation. When we arrived at the tree-lined rest stop off the interstate, he placed his small paws on the car's dashboard, looking around as his little black and white body wiggled in excitement. His instinct seemed to inform him this is where he was meeting his new family. He let out a happy YIP and looked at me with black eyes before gazing out the windshield again and then also the passenger-side window. I took him out of the car for a short walk, and not long thereafter a SUV with Montana license plates pulled in behind my car. Theo watched intently as a pregnant woman and then a man about 30 years of age stepped from the vehicle. Theo stood on his hind legs, his front paws dancing with excitement. The couple laughed. The man bent down, raised Theo into his arms, and then he and his wife hugged their new furry family member. Prior to leaving for Montana with their adopted dog, the man and woman thanked me for being part of Theo coming into their lives. The small dog licked my hand before getting into the SUV with his new human family. The large smile stayed on my face during the three-hour drive back home.
Fairy-tale endings may not exist for all people or all pets, but for the rescue animals I transport, there is a happily-ever-after – love, comfort, dedication, family – and I’m grateful to be part of that ending.
I'm grateful to be part of their happily-ever-after stories. And to have ones of my own.
“So far, we’ve done 72 cats and kittens and we still have 20 to 30 more to go,” explained the woman who sat across the table from me.
We shared coffee and conversation during my recent visit to Oregon for a family reunion. I learned about the all-volunteer pet rescue organization Hope 4 Paws – Grant County from two different people while visiting relatives in Prairie City, Oregon, and after garnering a contact phone number, I was now learning more about the group. With so many feral, unaltered cats in the community of John Day, this group had secured a grant as well as local donations and was working with an area veterinarian to spay and neuter cats in a mobile home park. Most of the felines were being fixed under a Trap-Neuter-Return program, while many kittens were being vaccinated and altered then adopted to loving families. This small group of people (less than 12 volunteers) made a commitment to their community and to the animals of that community to help animals in need. I left a small donation to help toward the next round of vaccinations and spay/neuter as well as two of my books to use as part of a future fundraising endeavor.
Commitment is critical to pet rescue. For the past 10 years in my state of residence, Wyoming, a pet rescue organization has committed to not just helping pets in need, but to saving lives of animals in the state’s kill-shelters. Black Dog Animal Rescue (BDAR) began saving dogs’ lives throughout the state, fostering them in volunteers’ homes, and adopting them to new loving families. During the past decade, the organization has grown, now also taking in cats, and instituting a partnership with a medium correctional facility to implement a program preparing dogs for adoption behavior and training program called P.A.C.K. – inmates work with the dogs on obedience and some agility training. A recent program graduate named Niffy, now christened Tiffy, was adopted by one of my friends.
Barb began looking for a dog a few months ago and asked me for advice on where to adopt. I gave her several suggestions, including BDAR. She was familiar with the organization from a family member living in Cheyenne, the community where BDAR is located, about a 3-hour drive from our town of Casper. Barb and her husband took a day to drive down after putting in an adoption application for this 2-year-old border collie cross they had seen on BDAR’s website. Barb was looking for a dog which would hike, run, and bike with her, and Niffy appealed to her due to the border collie’s nature of being energetic. She also considered putting the dog into an agility program, another activity for which border collies are skilled. Barb was impressed with both the dog and the organization.
“They were very knowledgeable and answered all of my questions,” she told me after adopting from BDAR. “It’s been a long time since I’ve adopted a dog. It was a pleasant and positive experience, and I’d recommend BDAR and do it again. And Tiffy – I just love her! She was shy the first few days but now she has learned the routine of the house. She is smart, she is affectionate, and she learns quickly. I’m excited to see how she does with agility.”
Why do I support animal rescue? For several reasons, including the fact pet rescue is necessary. With nearly seven million animals going into shelters across the country every year, and the many strays and community cat colonies with little to no medical needs met, rescues are critical to the health and welfare of both community animals and humans. All this takes commitment. Many times, as in the case of Oregon’s Hope 4 Paws, it’s a group of volunteers who make that commitment. BDAR began as an all-volunteer organization, but saving the lives of dogs and cats across an entire state is a huge, fulltime job. Therefore, the group now provides a small staff; but, they continue to rely upon volunteers to help, as most non-profit organizations do. The commitment of people to help animals in need inspires and awes me; therefore, I suppport these organizations who do this work.
Without commitment from staff members and volunteers, where would the animals, and the communities, be? I’m so grateful to these and all the animal rescue organizations for what they do, and I will continue supporting pet rescue groups in various ways as long as I live.
How about you? What can you do to help pet rescue groups in your area? For ideas, visit these websites:
You’ve likely read about or heard about them, one may even live in your home. These are the heroes, superheroes, in fact, but only one that I know of made it onto the TV/Movie screen: UnderDog. What a name – not SuperDog, BatDog, or AvengerDog, the name was UnderDog – not much of a super hero name.
Yet, for those animals who save their humans’ lives, these pets are superheroes, such as the parrot who saved a child from choking and a cat who saved her family from carbon monoxide poisoning. Earlier this year, a German shepherd dog was badly beaten and shot several times protecting a teenager from home intruders; miraculously, the dog survived his injuries, and received a commendation.
From overseas military combat dogs like Layka to cats like Schnautzie from Montana, pets save lives, sniff out bombs and cancer, and find lost children. Hero pets lead the blind, bring smiles to hospital patients, help children read, and give people comfort during illness or grief. Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs travel the country during times of trauma, such as hurricanes and school shootings. Our own pets provide comfort when we’re sick or stressed. A cold nose or warm purr soothes us, making our own pets our own personal heroes.
Every year American Humane presents the Hero Dog Awards, honoring canines who come to the rescue. These superheroes may be police, fire, or military dogs, lead the blind and help the deaf, serve as therapy animals in hospitals, or inspire us with their persevering spirits as emerging heroes. This week, American Humane allows the public to vote for the hero dogs which, later this year, will be recognized for their endeavors and awarded for their heroism. Cast your vote for the Hero Dogs of the Year by visiting this website: http://herodogawards.org/vote/. Voting closes on Wednesday, April 25.
Your dog, cat, ferret, or parrot may not have an award on the wall or shelf, may not have saved yours or a family member’s physical life, but most of us with pets recognize the joy and wonder of having a pet share our lives. Who is your hero pet? Leave a comment about why you feel your pet “rescued” you or, in your eyes and heart, is your hero. And, don’t forget to vote for the American Humane Hero Dog Awards!
The 5-month-old puppy came into the care of Black Dog Animal Rescue, located in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in March 2017. The signs of abuse were apparent: more than 20 broken bones, a large, fluid-filled mass on the dog’s neck and shoulders, and her timidity around people. Months of medical and emotional care transpired, and her story took flight thanks to local media and animal advocates on social media. The pit-mix was named Angel; she became the “spokesdog” for advancing stiffer cruelty laws in Wyoming. Angel recovered from all her physical injuries and eventually the happy, friendly puppy-self emerged. She was adopted by one of BDAR’s board members and renamed Stitch. Read her entire journey and see photos and X-rays of her injuries here: http://www.bdar.org/angel/
Although no strong statistics are available on the number of animal abuse cases, which can and often does include the international trade of dog meat and the national issue of horse slaughter, hoarding, dog and cock fighting, and puppy and kitten mills, the issue of animal cruelty exists everywhere. The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) documented 29 incidences last year in which they were called in to assist. More than 47,000 animals were rescued or helped in some way last year, and more than 300 criminal charges were filed, according to the organization. Just last week, the organization announced it was helping New Mexico law enforcement with a critical case involving more than 100 animals, many living without shelter and in need of medical care at a supposed animal sanctuary.
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month
April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. What can you do to help? Here are five suggestions:
Forms of Abuse
Animal cruelty takes on many forms, from lack of food, water and shelter and violence against an animal (as in Angel’s case) to dog fighting and puppy mills. The dog my husband and I adopted last fall, Jeremiah, is a puppy mill survivor. He and many other dogs were rescued by Hearts United for Animals (HUA), a sanctuary in southeastern Nebraska which, for the past 30+ years, has rescued animals throughout the Midwest. That portion of the country seems plagued with puppy mills, with Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa involved in this industry in high numbers. But, according to the Humane Society of the United States’ 2017 report on puppy mills, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas also have a big issue. That’s why organizations like HUA, which recently helped rescue several German shepherd dogs, and National Mill Dog Rescue (NMDR), exist – to provide a sanctuary where these animals can heal physically and emotionally and hopefully find these creatures new, loving homes. Which we’ve provided for our Jeremiah.
Cruelty to animals is not something to be taken lightly. These animals suffer, physically and emotionally, such as children and other people do. Let’s hold abusers accountable and not tolerate the harm they inflict.
Resources on animal cruelty:
Living in the 21st century has many perks, from technological gadgets to how, as a society, we view animals. According to the American Pet Products Association, 68 percent of people living in the United States own a pet, with the majority (60.2 million) having dogs and 47.1 million having cats. The organization estimates that nearly $70 billion was spent on pets by pet owners in 2017, up from 66.75 billion in 2016. Americans certainly seem to love their pets!
Still, improvements are greatly needed, especially in the areas of animal adoption and pet ownership responsibility.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), nearly 6.5 million animals enter shelters and rescues every year; they are comprised of owner surrenders, strays, and animals rescued from hoarding, dog fighting, and puppy/kitty mill operations. Only about half are adopted. More than 700,000 strays are reunited with their owners; sadly, less than five percent of the cats that come in as strays are reclaimed, and many of the animals brought in are not spayed or neutered.
Pet ownership responsibility includes caring for one’s animal, providing food, water, shelter, and medical treatment. In addition to vaccinations and teeth cleaning, medical care should include spaying and neutering. Such procedures curb the number of litters born, and therefore, helps cut down on the number of animals needing homes, either through the owner giving/selling the youngsters or taking them to rescues and shelters. Cats and dogs can breed two to three times a year, having an average of six babies per litter. Multiple that out over the course of five to seven years, and you have thousands more animals per unsprayed female. For every kitten or puppy sold or given away by owners, that’s one less adopted and therefore, one more possibly euthanized.
Until there are less strays, less owner relinquishment, more adoptions, and more spaying and neutering, no more animal hoarding or puppy/kitten mills, there will be the need for animal shelters and rescues.
We all can do our part to positively impact responsibility and rescue. Here are some suggestions:
Although America has come a long way since the 1970s when 12 to 20 million pets were killed in animal shelters across the country, there a great need still exists for pet ownership responsibility and, therefore, for animal rescues and shelters. Let’s all do something to help continue the downward trend of euthanasia rates and increase pet ownership responsibility. Maybe one we will realize the #NoKill dream many animal welfare organizations envision – that no healthy, adoptable animal is euthanized – but it takes responsible pet owners to get there.
#GivingTuesday occurs this week, and on this day those of us who advocate for animals can make a big difference for those creatures.
#GivingTuesday allows us to partner with and thank non-profits around the world with a monetary donation. Around this time every year we are bombarded with spending money, from Black Friday deals to Cyber Monday savings. Many of us get wrapped up like a box at Christmas in the buy, buy, buy, and spend, spend, spend – and yes, #GivingTuesday is no exception. However, the big difference between Black Friday/Cyber Monday and #GivingTuesday is that our dollars can do a lot of good on this special day – helping charities continue their good works.
Whether your passions lie with pets or people, or both, you can make a difference on #GivingTuesday; contributing to causes that help others is a very positive endeavor, and oftentimes your donations can and will be matched through grants and other donors.
On this #GivingTuesday, if you’re an animal advocate like me, let’s pool our resources and help pets in need. Donate locally first if you believe in a pet rescue or animal shelter near you; oftentimes, the local organizations receive little to no national funding; our local groups need us, their community, to step up. But, if you want to split your donation between a local and a national group, as I often do, here are a few national animal rescue organizations you might consider supporting:
There are many wonderful organizations, including breed rescues, like English Springer Spaniel Rescue of America, Big Dogs Huge Paws (specializing in breeds such as Mastiffs and Great Danes), and Mid-America Boston Terrier Rescue (I have transported dogs for all three of these groups). If you like a specific breed of dog and want to assist a national rescue group for that breed, visit this American Kennel Club website: http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/rescue-network/contacts/.
Another group I like to support is located in Wyoming, but its reach extends beyond state borders. Black Dog Animal Rescue, in Cheyenne, has been around for nearly 10 years, helping shelter dogs scheduled to be euthanized in shelters find new, loving adoptive homes. One of their successful programs pairs prisoners with pups; the inmates work with the dogs regarding obedience and agility training.
My plan for #GivingTuesday is to donate locally, regionally, and nationally, and though I may not have a lot of money, my contribution paired with others can, and does, make a difference.
How about you? Want to help animals in need? I hope you’ll do so on this #GivingTuesday. Animals need people and rescues and shelters need individuals and groups to help them help the animals. Show your compassion and concern today – donate and make a difference!
He never knew the inside of a house. He rarely had opportunity to play with toys. He’s unfamiliar with leashes and walking the neighborhood, and his housetraining is limited. His name was Stormy.
One year ago, the then-three-year-old Shih Tzu was one of dozens of dogs rescued from the squalor of a puppy mill. Staff and volunteers at Hearts United for Animals have a mission – to rescue, work with, and re-home as many puppy mill dogs as they can. They also take in dogs and cats for other reasons, such as deaths in the family, and they help owners keep their pets who might have to give them up due to the animal’s medical condition. Nearly 400 animals reside at the rural Nebraska animal sanctuary, many of them small breeds like Stormy. But, there are also larger dogs, such as Hounds, Labs, and Shiba Inus. Other organizations, such as National Mill Dog Rescue in Colorado, have a similar mission: closing puppy mills by rescuing the oppressed, neglected animals and bringing new life and hope to those creatures.
What is a Puppy Mill?
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), a puppy mill is “a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate veterinary care, food, water or socialization. In order to maximize profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little-to-no recovery time between litters.” The pups are sold in pet stores, over the Internet, through newspaper ads, and at swap meets and flea markets. Because millers focus on making money, the dogs are often bred with little regard for genetic quality, and therefore, the puppies are often ill or have significant health issues. There is no oversight to this industry, and though there is no real data to know the number of millers in the U.S., the ASPCA estimates there are about 10,000 puppy mills in America.
The Humane Society of the United States also rescues and shuts down puppy mills. Learn more about their operations at http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/campaigns/stop_puppy_mills/?credit=web_id93480558.
Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 is Puppy Mill Awareness Day. Take time to learn more about puppy mills and then educate your family and friends. Do what you can to help bring an end to this terrible life thousands of dogs endure!
New Life, New Hope
Stormy now has a new life – and a new name. Jeremiah Story Irwin is the new four-footed family member in my house. He, and other puppy mill survivors (and their rescuers) have a story, and I write stories, therefore, his middle name. A few weeks before his first anniversary with HUA, Jeremiah now lives in a house for the first time in his life, has other animal friends (although the original Irwin resident pets are still getting used to the idea of a new housemate!), and has a large backyard to explore. The first time he accepted a toy and trotted around the house with it brought tears to my eyes. There are challenges, such as housetraining, but he’s catching on quickly, and he’s already learned the commands of sit and come – in less than a week. He’s a smart, loving, happy boy, and I’m thankful we found each other! I am also thankful to the heroes who help puppy mill dogs escape the horrors of their previous lives!
Adopt, Don’t Shop! And encourage your friends and family to do so. By those actions, you, too, can impact (and change) the lives of puppy mill dogs, giving them hope, love, and joy.
As pictures unfolded the past several days of destruction from Hurricane Harvey along the Texas coast and the sky’s open spigot drenching Houston with floodwater devastation, one could not help but wonder about the people and animals impacted by this natural disaster.
Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods -- every year the United States and other countries feel the assault of such forces. And, every year, rescue organizations, from the American Red Cross to the ASPCA, respond to people and pets in crisis. Sometimes the images and realities are overwhelming – who can forget Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans? These are the times when I, at least, wish I’d won the lottery and could pump millions of dollars into the organizations that respond to natural disasters.
Two recently published articles helps us understand the situation:
But, I don’t have millions. I don’t have thousands. I really don’t even have hundreds. And, I imagine most people are in the same boat, so to speak. So, how can we respond? How can we help?
Look around at the resources we do have. Can we purchase an extra bottle of laundry detergent or give up a cup of coffee at the local drive-through on our way to work? Donations, of supplies or money (even if it’s $5 or $10) can go a long way, partnering with other small donations.
As an author, I have another resource – my books: they are about pets. And, I can encourage a fundraising campaign, giving books to those who donate to Hurricane Harvey pet rescue endeavors. That’s what I’ve decided to do.
National Dog Day was Saturday, about the time Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. In honor of dogs, and helping those in need impacted by this major storm, I’ll give a book to anyone who requests one after they have donated to a pet rescue organization helping animals displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Groups such as the ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society, Humane Society of the United States, and Austin Pets Alive! are participating in the pet rescue endeavors (you can learn more through the links I’ve provided here).
Email me a copy of the receipt (or some other type of confirmation) that you receive from your donation to one of these groups (or one of your choice that is helping the animals displaced by the hurricane and Houston’s flooding), and I’ll send you a book for free! My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep the book for yourself or give to a friend, child, or grandchild. My inspirational stories weave wonderful life lessons and showcase how pets can teach us amazing things.
Many of the pictures we’ve seen have also been inspirational: people helping one another, coming together in community, saving lives, providing hope. That’s what we can do here: provide hope, let others know we care. When our hearts are broken by the images of ravaging flood waters, dogs swimming in feet of water, trying to survive, hurricane damage to businesses and homes, people atop house roofs waiting to be rescued … we wonder what we can do.
I donated yesterday to Austin Pets Alive! with some of the book sale funds I received from events last weekend. I hope you’ll help me help pets affected by this crisis. The book offer will continue through September 15, when I’ll be bringing my new furry friend home (my husband and I are adopting a dog in a few weeks – more about that exciting news in next week’s blog).
Won’t you join me in helping pets affected by this month’s natural disaster? In addition to the book, I will also provide you with a FREE monthly pet-oriented newsletter, which you can also share with your pet-loving family and friends.
Thank you for doing what you can to help people and pets affected by this disaster – I look forward to partnering with you in this endeavor!
ORGANIZATIONS HELPING TEXAS ANIMALS:
Below are links to some of the animal rescue groups helping the animals in Texas:
Springtime brings more people outdoors and thoughts about adding a pet to one’s life often occurs during better weather. Playing with a dog in the backyard, taking walks in the neighborhood and beyond, and opening windows to smell fresh air and hear birds sing conjure up ideas about sharing experiences – and life – with a four-footed friend.
Adopting a pet from a local shelter or rescue is a positive thing; oftentimes, adoption saves lives. The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), which promotes Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month during April, reports that nearly 6.5 million animals are brought into animal shelters across the nation each year, and about 1.5 are killed in those facilities, oftentimes due to lack of adoption and lack of space. Therefore, adoption does save lives.
However, before running out to your local animal shelter or pet rescue organization, there are five questions a person should honestly answer before bringing a pet home. They are:
Let’s take a quick look at each of these questions and hopefully, help you answer them.
Being ready for a pet means examining your lifestyle and family situation. Primarily, do you have enough time to devote to a pet? Is someone responsible enough to not just feed and water the animal, but also to spend quality time playing with and providing activity and companionship for the pet? How many hours do you and your family spend away from home, which would leave the pet alone, possibly bored which, in turn, could lead to destructive behaviors. Make sure you have time to spend with your adopted animal – before you adopt.
What pet best fits your lifestyle? If you are gone a lot, a cat would likely be better than a dog. Cats are often much more independent; not saying you should ignore your cat, but a kitty doesn’t require walking, running, or playing activities as much as a cat does. Still, all pets need friendship and companionship, no matter what type of animal you consider bringing home. Various breeds of dogs need more, or less, activity, so if you’re considering adopting a dog, research the breed’s activity level requirements as well as personality traits. A great place to go for such information is the American Kennel Club’s website:
Finding a place from which to adopt a pet is fairly easy. There are many organizations whose mission it is to help animals in need of new homes. Local animal shelters and humane societies, as well as a wide variety of rescue organizations make saving pets and re-homing them a priority. The best place to start is your local shelter or rescue. Petfinder.com is also a great resource and helps thousands of pets find new homes every year. At this website, you will find specific breeds and ages of animals simply by using the parameters, and your zip code, at the site.
Speaking of ages, does a puppy or kitten suit your lifestyle or is it best for you to adopt an older animal? Baby and teenaged pets often require much more attention, care, and training, whereas adults and seniors are likely to be already trained and able to spend more time alone without worry of soiled carpet or chewed/clawed up furniture. Carefully consider how much time you have with the pet before being swept away by puppy and kitten cuteness.
Another option for adoption is a pet with a disability. These are often the most overlooked, and therefore, most likely to die in shelters. Yet, they are loving, faithful friends when given the chance. Blind, deaf, three-legged, or diabetic, these animals need loving, dedicated homes, too, oftentimes more so than “normal” pets. Consider adopting a pet with a disability, but also carefully consider the pets needs and if you can meet those needs. Deaf animals can – and do – respond to training via hand signals, and blind pets need more safety measures in place. These things are doable, and not costly.
So, are you ready to adopt a pet? Find more information about pet adoption and pet care at https://www.aspca.org/adopt-pet/adoption-tips
April is known as Volunteer Appreciation Month. Animal welfare organizations, from local shelters and rescues to larger, nation-wide groups depend upon volunteers. In fact, many rescue organizations are strictly volunteer-based. If not for the dedication of volunteers and their love for pets, most companion animal groups would not function well or even exist.
Volunteers help pets in need in many ways. Whether walking dogs, brushing and socializing cats, or assisting with transports and fundraisers, volunteers are vital to the health, welfare, and adoption of pets. Most rescue organizations, like Black Dog Animal Rescue in Cheyenne, Wyoming, depend on volunteers to foster animals in their care as these pets await adoptive families. Other groups, like MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue and Big Dogs Huge Paws rely upon people to transport dogs either into rescue or to their adoptive families, as oftentimes the distance the animal needs to travel is quite long. This is a role I enjoy fulfilling – transporting a dog into rescue or to its new adoptive family. Several times a year I’m called upon to help transport dogs through my state, usually up or down Interstate 25. Wyoming is a large state and there are great distances between towns; there aren’t a lot of people in the state (at least in the area where I live) who transport. Therefore, whenever I’m available during a time of need, I heed the call. I’ve transported Boston Terriers, Great Danes, English Springer Spaniels, even a Newfoundland for rescue groups in my region. I love every trip, for I know I’m helping a pet in need – it’s an amazing, humbling feeling!
I’ve also traveled to Utah’s Best Friends Animal Sanctuary where I volunteered with the cats. Spending time in their enclosures, playing with them, petting them, as well as taking them outdoors on leashes and in baby buggies, my heart has been filled by knowing I’ve assisted those kitties be more social and therefore, more adoptable. I’m hoping to return to that marvelous place again this year to once again volunteer.
There are many ways a person can volunteer with local, regional, even national animal welfare groups. Some of the endeavors take time, others just a few hours a week, and some just a few hours every few months (like transporting). Here are 10 ways in which you can help animal rescue organizations as a volunteer:
You’ll be amazed at the difference you can make in the lives of pets who need help by volunteering. Take this special time of Volunteer Appreciation Month and consider how you might be helpful to organizations that help pets in need – your service is greatly needed and will be genuinely appreciated!
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.