“Approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats).” – ASPCA
There’s a tale used by some rescue and shelter organizations intended to put the above statistic into perspective. Although you can find many variations of this story on the internet, the message is always the same. It is about a man who walks the beach and tosses the starfish that have washed upon the shore back into the ocean. One day he was asked why he did this as there were miles of beach and numerous starfish along each mile. How could this possibly make a difference? As the man bends down to toss another starfish into the ocean, he replies, “It made a difference for this one.”
Logically we know one person can t save all of the 5 – 7 million companion animals that enter shelter and rescue organizations, but there are opportunities for everyone to make a difference in the life of one. Let’s look at some of those ways:
Misconception: “I can’t volunteer, I am not comfortable working directly with the animals.”
Reality: There are many volunteer opportunities within any shelter or rescue organization that does not involve direct contact with animals.”
- Help design and maintain a monthly newsletter
- Volunteer in the office (answering phones, filing etc)
- Arrange and participate in fundraising events
- Website maintainance
- Put together informational packets for new adopters
- Assist in screening new adopters
- Handyman work around the facility
- Landscaping and gardening
Misconception: “Shelter and rescue organizations are only looking for financial donations.”
Reality: While cash donations are always appreciated, the supplies needed for the day to day operations are just as important.
Note: To determine which items your favorite shelter/rescue organization is in need of, take time to visit their website.
- Dog or cat food
- Laundry detergent
- Food dishes
- Cat and dog beds
Misconception: “Fostering is only for children.”
Reality: Did you know that you can work with your local shelter or rescue organization and temporarily foster one of their companion animals within your home?
Many times there is a screening process that occurs prior to fostering a shelter or rescue animal in your home. However, once approved, the overall goal would be to assist in preparing the animals from the shelter into their forever home.
Misconception: “Most shelter animals are not good pets, that Is why they end up in the shelter.”
Reality: According to the Humane Society of the United States the most common scenarios as to why animals end up in shelters are due to “people reasons” as opposed to behavioral issues.
- Their owners have passed away
- A divorce
- Owners have to move
- Owners did not spay or neuter their pets and could not keep the litter of puppies
- Owners did not have enough time to take care of their pet.
- Owners could not take care of their pet financially
Bottom-Line: As you can see, there are many opportunities in which you can help your local rescue or shelter organization. Now it’s up to you to find that special way to make that difference in the life of one.
Donna Gleason – TLC DogTrainer resides in Sherman, CT.
She is a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) with a Masters in Behavior Modification. She offers professional in-home dog training (specializing in puppy education, basic obedience and behavior modification) and group puppy/basic obedience classes. Donna is a member of APDT, Delta Society, Shelter Animal Reiki Association, Good Dog Foundation and consulting trainer for Paw-Safe Animal Rescue. To reach Donna call 203.241.4449 or visit her website @ www.TLCDogtrainer.com