In 1996, the Humane Society of the United States launched National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week. The campaign was created to shine a light on the priceless role shelters play in our communities and to increase public awareness of animal welfare issues and shelter services. Most people probably don’t realize how many homeless animals are being cared for each day at animal shelters across the nation. The shelter I managed in Detroit, Michigan, took in close to 100 animals per day. To help the efforts that shelters go through every day, 365 days a year, the best thing you can do is make sure that you are part of the solution and not part of the problem. Here’s how to become part of the solution:
Spay or neuter your pet.
If you are a pet owner, spay or neuter your pet before it reaches the age of sexual maturity. The chances of your pet developing mammary or testicular cancer decrease if you spay or neuter before sexual maturity. An added benefit to you as the pet owner is that certain undesirable behaviors may be altered with spaying or neutering. For example, animals tend to roam less and fewer will mark their territory once they are spayed or neutered. Plus, you won’t have to worry about your female dog or cat going into heat.
Own your pet for life.
Remember that pet ownership is a lifetime commitment. Many of us will get married, have children, move, start a new job, etc., throughout our pet’s lifetime. When these changes occur, it should not be a reason to give up your pet. Studies have shown that regardless of the reason given when an animal is surrendered to a shelter, behavior problems are often the underlying issue. If your pet has a correctable behavior problem, try to get professional advice and training before you opt to hand over your pet to an already overpopulated shelter.
Identify your pet.
According to the National Council on Pet Population Study, about one-million stray dogs and half-a-million stray cats are turned in to shelters across the nation each year. Unfortunately, only 15 percent of those dogs and a measly 2 percent of those cats are ever reunited with their owners. Don’t let your pet become a statistic. For more information on identifying your pet, check out a previous Pet Chat column at http://independent.com/news/2011/apr/01/tag-your-pet/
Before you shop, ADOPT.
If you don’t own a pet but would like to, choose an animal shelter over a pet store. There are many shelters in the Santa Barbara area alone with hundreds of pets looking for loving homes. Even if you’re looking for a purebred, you may find one at an animal shelter. For a listing of Santa Barbara area rescue groups, animal controls, and humane societies, click the following link http://www.animaladoptionsolutions.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=34&Itemid=55. If you don’t see what you’re looking for at a local animal shelter, you can go online and search by breed, sex, and size of the pet you are looking to adopt. For more information, visit www.petfinder.com.
Volunteer your time.
If you can’t adopt a pet, consider helping out a shelter by volunteering your time at the shelter or fostering an animal. Not only will you be helping animals in your community, but you also will be building knowledge and skills. Call your local shelter and find out how to start volunteering.
Donate old toys or beds.
If your pets have items they no longer use, consider donating them to your local shelter instead of throwing them away. Many shelters will wash and reuse old beds and toys.
Celebrate National Shelter Appreciation week by becoming part of the solution!
RESQCATS Takes a New Direction
RESQCATS, Inc., founded in 1997 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the rescue, care, and adoption of stray and abandoned cats and kittens in Santa Barbara, will be embarking upon a new direction in 2012. Jeffyne Telson, the founder and president of RESQCATS, stated, “After 14 years of rescue, care, and placement of almost 1,900 cats and kittens, RESQCATS will leave its roots as an adoption organization to move in a new direction next year. This new path will give us the opportunity to serve the community through a much broader approach.” She added, “While there is still a tremendous need for the adoption of cats and kittens, we feel RESQCATS can provide a much greater service to the community by modifying our current mission.”
According to Telson, “While our new undertaking continues to develop, we are quite certain that one of the organization’s primary goals will be a commitment to spay/neuter programs for the community.” As a pledge to this new approach, RESQCATS recently provided funding for 200 spay and neuter surgeries that are being offered to the pet-owning public. This number is in addition to the funding of 150 spay and neuter surgeries provided by the organization in 2010. Jeffyne added, “We recognize that community outreach and education will be a significant part of our new organizational objectives.” In addition, she indicated that RESQCATS will continue to help other cat rescue groups in the area by fostering litters and providing additional important services, all at the expense of RESQCATS. The RESQCATS’ facility, which is the home to a number of resident cats considered “un-adoptable” due to medical or social conditions, will continue to provide lifetime care and be a forever home for these cats and kittens that range in age from six months to 16 years. RESQCATS will continue to operate in Santa Barbara, California, as a donation-based, state and federally sanctioned, nonprofit organization.
During Adopt-a-Senior-Dog Month, take the opportunity to get acquainted with the older dogs at all of the three Santa Barbara County Animal Services shelters, located in Lompoc, Santa Maria, and Santa Barbara. If you happen to find one that you like at the Santa Barbara shelter, then K-9 PALS will be happy to sponsor part of your adoption fee ($20 discount). If you are a senior citizen and find a senior pup as a match, then K-9 PALS will double your discount on your adoption fee ($40 discount). Adopted dogs from Santa Barbara shelter come with current vaccines, spay/neuter, and four free dog-training sessions at the shelter.
A senior dog is usually already trained, doesn’t chew or scratch everything in sight, and will be a dog that will love you unconditionally. Our senior dogs are healthy, loving pets that have had a home, and they want one again. They don’t ask for much: just a warm place to sleep, good meals, and plenty of love.
Adoptable Pet of the Week
Kitty Kat is a beautiful 13-year-old male Maine coon. He is a proud and confident feline who is full of love and affection. He enjoys lying around in the sun or curled up on your lap. He is a big cat with an even bigger heart. Kitty Kat would make a great addition to your household!
For more information, visit the Santa Barbara Humane Society at 5399 Overpass Road, or call (805) 964-4777. Shelter hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. You can also visit www.sbhumanesociety.org for more information.
Lisa Acho Remorenko is executive director of Animal Adoption Solutions, firstname.lastname@example.org