Monday, August 25, 2014

My lifelong friend, Gigi

Gigi is my cat. When she came into my life, 7 years ago, she became my lifelong friend. If she gets sick, I will watch over her and get her the medicine she needs to get well. When she is older and loses her hearing or goes blind, I will continue to feed her and love her.  I promise that if I can no longer give her the care she needs, I will find her a good home where she will be loved.

 There are many reasons why people abandon animals. I don't mean to shame anyone who has previously left an animal behind. My intention is only to educate. Eight million dogs and cats enter an animal shelter every year. That statistic does not include the ferals and the animals that remain on the streets of every city across the country.

Some people leave their family pet behind when they move because they are moving to a place where pets are not allowed. They may have tried desperately to find a home for their dog or cat, but they just couldn't find anyone who would take it. All their money is gone in moving expenses, so they think they won't be able to afford an animal shelter surrender fee. Perhaps they fear that if they take their pet to a shelter, it will be put down. Some people really do believe their pet will have a better chance out on the street where some kind-hearted individual will walk by and take the animal home.

Before & after rescued photos show what the street does to a dog.
Animals that have been domesticated, which means we fed, watered, pampered and loved on them, really don't stand much of a chance out on the street. Their long fur gets caked with mud and leaves and ends up seriously matted. Pets are subject to diseases and vicious attacks by other cats, dogs or wild animals. Obviously, traffic kills millions of cats and dogs left to wander the streets. Once a previously sweet and adorable puppy goes through sickness, dirt, abuse by unfriendly people, dogs fights, and other harm on the street, the dog will become fearful and often aggressive. Leaving a pet behind is not a good alternative for any animal.

One thing I haven't mentioned yet is the number of cats and dogs that were never spayed or neutered. Pet owners may feel like they can't afford the cost. Some people think that the procedure will alter their dog and make him less manly. Others argue that they want their children to witness nature in action. When the home is overrun with baby puppies and kitties, they struggle to find homes for them. When these cats or dogs who are not spayed and neutered run wild in the street, the overpopulation problem develops in our neighborhoods.

 The answer is for all of us to get involved. Educate your friends and family on importance of finding good homes for pets that they can no longer care for. Besides animal shelters, most cities have rescue organizations that foster pets.  Most groups will include your pet on their adoption lists for free. Also, educate your neighborhood on the importance of spaying and neutering pets. Volunteer at a shelter or an animal rescue organization. Consider being a foster family for a dog or cat that is looking for a home. If there are no animal rescue groups in your area, be the first to organize your own non-profit. Most importantly, if you see dogs or cats that look as if they are feral or dumped, be the rescuer or at least, call for help. Let us not ignore the problem.

Here is a short list of links that will get you started in making a difference:
Petsmart Charities
Alley Cat Allies
The Dog Rescuers
The Humane Society

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