Keep Pets Out of the Shelter System
Animal shelters are filled with pets who were surrendered because of behavioral issues, or because their owners become ill and were hospitalized or moved to nursing homes. Many of these animals were rehomed more than once before ending up in the shelter system and many are senior pets, suddenly torn from the only homes they’ve ever known. They’re scared, alone, and in danger of being euthanized.
Animal shelter/adoption activists promote adopting dogs and cats from shelters and rescue organizations rather than buying a pet from a pet store or breeder. While I support this effort wholeheartedly it doesn’t address the problem of how to limit the number of pets being surrendered in the first place.
Think of it this way. If a pipe broke flooding your kitchen and you grabbed a bucket and tried to scoop up the water you would get nowhere fast, because unless you fix the broken pipe the water will just keep coming and coming and coming. The same applies to the shelter system. Until you fix the reason so many pets are surrendered they will just keep coming and coming and coming.
It seems to me that a grassroots community effort might be helpful in offering solutions to plug up the leak that leads to the growing number of unwanted and homeless pets. This effort can start locally and spread state to state.
Here are some ideas Walking Doggies is working on to begin this effort. We hope these ideas lead to an organized program that helps to reduce the number of pets who lose their homes and end up in the shelter system each year.
Community By Community
- Set up a local network of foster families who volunteer to care for pets while their owners are hospitalized or in nursing facilities.
- Set up a local network of pet care providers who volunteer or offer discounted rates to help senior citizens and people with limited incomes care for their pets. This includes dog walkers, groomers, trainers, pet transportation to veterinarians and groomers and people offering in-home pet care.
- Ask local pet supply stores to offer discounts to help senior citizens and people with limited incomes pay for the products they need to care for their pets.
- Ask local media to run stories about our outreach program, encouraging potential pet owners to contact us for resources and help.
- Make flyers to inform senior citizens and people with limited incomes about our program to facilitate pet adoptions and leave them in local pet supply stores, groomers, veterinary clinics, nursing homes, hospitals, churches, libraries and senior centers.
- Find out if there’s a pet food bank in each community and work with them to reach out to home-bound seniors and people with limited incomes.
- Ask local shelters and rescue organizations to offer discounted adoption fees to senior citizens and people with limited incomes. Many organizations already offer discounted fees to adopt older pets. These resources should be included in flyers left in local pet supply stores, groomers, veterinary clinics, nursing homes, hospitals, churches, libraries and senior centers.
- Many senior citizens and people with physical disabilities can provide loving forever homes to adult and senior cats. This would be a perfect match in many situations. We need to get the word out to these people and connect them with the appropriate local adoption resources.
So where do we begin?
We already began and we’re working hard behind the scenes. But we can sure use some help, so please contact us if you’d like to be involved.