Puppy (and kitty) Love

Yes, I’m talking about animals again. I can’t help myself, as you may have figured out by now. But this week I really can’t help it. Tuesday was Spay Day USA (also known as World Spay Day) which is a holiday of sorts in the animal rescue community. Established in 1994 by the advocacy group Doris Day Animal League, Spay Day USA’s purpose was to bring attention to the pet overpopulation problem.*

This year, a community cat in my neighborhood was neutered on World Spay Day. It The Countwas a nice way to acknowledge the day. The Count has been living in the backyard shed, off and on, since last fall. It became apparent recently, when he was out carousing during all of these major snowstorms, that he had no home (or if he did, his people weren’t caring for him). So now he’s fixed, thanks to Animal Rescue Fund’s generosity, and he’ll go to a good home soon. And another one will be off the streets.

Well, great, you’re probably thinking. Good for The Count. Or maybe you’re thinking, this is worth a whole blog post?

It is. Because despite World Spay Day and other spay/neuter efforts, despite the best work of so many dedicated rescuers in shelters across the country, despite the homes filled to the brim with fosters and rescue pets, 2.7 million healthy animals are euthanized at shelters in the U.S. every year. That’s one cat or dog every 10 seconds, according to the Humane Society.

Sad. Sobering. Especially when I think about Shaggy, Shaggy Cutierescued from death row with 24 hours to live – an extra 24 hours a shelter worker miraculously gave her. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be here today. I can’t imagine life without that face.

Or when I think about the other animals from kill shelters who’ve been part of my life. Like Valley, Valley Catwho at 16 at the Brooklyn Animal Care and Control Center wouldn’t have had a chance.

It’s sad, and it’s horrible, but worst of all, it’s preventable. This problem is all of ours, and we can all be part of a solution.

How? Here are a few ways you can help:

  • Adopt, don’t shop. Adopt a shelter pet next time you’re thinking of adding to your family. Look for shelters or organizations that have an “open admission” policy. Since those shelters have to take any animal that’s surrendered to them, they’re more likely to euthanize for space.
  • Fix a feral – or call someone who can.  If your neighborhood has a feral cat colony, there are a lot of resources available to help. Alley Cat Allies has great information on Trap-Neuter-Return on their site. And even if you don’t have the faintest idea how to set a trap or find a program to get a feral cat fixed, they can help you find a local resource.
  • Make a donation. Find a rescue group, local or national, that resonates with you and support them. You don’t have to donate big bucks. Any amount makes a difference.
  • Volunteer. Shelters and rescue groups are always in need of animal people to help their organizations. There are so many ways to help, like being part of a transport, or fostering an animal in need, or cleaning cages or walking dogs once a week.
  • And of course, if you have a pet, make sure he/she is spayed or neutered!

The sheer number of animals in need can be daunting. Believe me, I know. And no one can do everything. But everyone can do something. Baby steps.

Readers, do you have an animal rescue story to share?

*Doris Day Animal League in 2006 merged with the Humane Society of the United States, and World Spay Day was established.

6 thoughts on “Puppy (and kitty) Love

  1. All our cats come from local shelters. Birdie was actually rescued by a construction worker who almost drove his huge yellow vehicle over a nest of newborn kittens. Mama was gone and the guy rushed them to the local shelter, with Birdie the only one surviving. He was bottle fed for two months and used to accompany his foster mom to her job as a social worker before we got him, so he loves being around people.

  2. Liz, as you know, my cat Ashley (who looks like the Count) is a rescue from a no-kill shelter. It is a long story, but she was “unadoptable” because she was 11 at the time and didn’t like other animals, so she had to be fostered in a room by herself. I wasn’t looking for a cat, but heard her story, brought my nieces to meet her (because if she wasn’t good with kids, it wouldn’t work), and brought her home. I may have rescued her, but she also rescued me. Such great company, well trained by her previous owner (who had gone into a nursing home and was heartbroken that Ashley couldn’t go with her), and still very healthy. So I would add to your list–adopt an older cat or dog. Great post.

  3. Our last five cats have been shelter adoptees (one is helping me write at the moment, on my lap). When we acquired Dexter and Lila, we had to hunt down the shelter in a seedy area of a nearby town. Because of local economic conditions, many people were simply abandoning their pets, and the cat room there was overflowing–any cats that didn’t absolutely need to be caged were roaming around the space freely. Makes you wish you could bring home a lot, but we settled on two siblings. But my sister-in-law has somewhere between six and nine cats.

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