There are few places in the world that have not been touched in some way by the faltering global economy. A tragic side effect of this phenomenon is the increase in abandoned pets and the resulting stress it continues to place on the shelters trying to care for them.
As someone who lives in a home filled with animals it’s hard to imagine any circumstance in which I would give them up: their care is my top priority. Perhaps if circumstances became so dire that I could not afford to feed them or provide them with adequate medical care, I could see how one might have to come to such a heartbreaking decision.
For this reason countless pets are finding their way into shelters that are already bursting at the seams. Whatever the reason that makes a pet owner relinquish their pet to a shelter, the outcome is tragic.
Shelters that are already at capacity must take on even more pets. This makes the already difficult task of finding homes for unwanted pets even more challenging and translates into a higher euthanization rate. According to the Humane Society of the United States, half the animals taken into shelters have to be put down due to a lack of space and funds.
The shelters’ difficulties are compounded by the fact that they are receiving fewer charitable donations due to the same dire financial circumstances that are bringing more animals to them in the first place: it’s a vicious cycle. Add to that the fact that many pet owners are now being turned away by shelters that are too full to accept more animals and we find many pets being turned out to fend for themselves or left to live in abusive situations.
For those facing financial difficulty and the prospect of giving up their pets, the HSUS provides a comprehensive list of pet financial aid-related organizations.
What can you do to help?
1) Make a cash donation to your local shelter or humane society – even the smallest amount helps. If you can afford to donate, every dollar goes to help feed homeless animals, provide them with medical care and put a roof over their heads.
2) Volunteer your time. If you can’t afford to spare some cash, help your local shelter with fundraising initiatives. You can also help shelters reduce their overhead costs by offering to help care for the animals – you can help feed them, clean their living quarters, walk the dogs and spend time playing with those animals that can’t go outside.
3) Open up your heart and home to a homeless shelter animal – provide a forever home to an adopted pet.
4) Become a temporary foster parent to a pet! Can’t adopt a new pet permanently? Fostering pets provides great assistance to shelters as it allows them to take on more animals while they search for forever homes for as many pets as possible.
5) Spread the word. Use your voice to speak for those who have none. Make the plight of homeless pets known to those around you and encourage everyone you know who might be considering getting a pet to adopt one from their local shelter.
You can make a positive difference. Homeless animals need our help now more than ever.