My friend Jenn is the biggest animal lover I know. She used to be a vet tech, and then spent several years volunteering at her local shelter. She currently volunteers at her local Zoo, and in addition to caring for her own brood of 9 cats, continues to be a foster mom for kittens in need. Jenn loves animals and is very knowledgeable about what organizations out there are really helping the animals. I couldn't think of anyone better to ask to write a guest post about animal charity organizations than Jenn. Don't forget to check out Jenn's blog at Cats, Cooking and Compassion!
Instead I am going to encourage you to donate your time or money to your local No-Kill Shelter. They do great work within the community.
Among the services no-kill shelters provide are:
*Rescue from animal control and open-door/kill shelters
*Low-cost spay/neuter services
*Trap/neuter/return of feral kittens
*Hay distribution four outside animals
*Educational programs for adults and children
*Obedience classes for dogs
*Off-site adoption centers
*Medical services for the public
*Food bank distribution
Not every shelter provides all of these services, but many do, and some offer even more. Services will differ. It is important to note that no-kill shelters and rescue groups do not get government funding. They rely on grants and donations and rely heavily on their volunteers.
Have you seen those commercials on TV that show all the cute puppies and kittens being given as gifts? The recipients, usually children, are overjoyed at receiving this adorable gift. This is not reality.
You should never give a gift of a pet. The reasons are numerous, and I’ll discuss some below.
First, the decision to get a pet should never be entered into lightly. A pet is not disposable or returnable. A pet is a commitment and it is unfair to ask anyone to make that kind of commitment if they are not ready. Pets can live up to 20 years. That is a long time to ask someone to make adjustments to their lives.
Secondly, when a person is ready, truly ready, they should make the selection for themselves. A human/animal bond cannot be explained and it cannot be chosen by someone else.
A pet requires time, money and lifestyle changes that person has to be willing to make. Even if someone intends to get a pet, only they can decide when they are ready. Dogs needs walks and baths, and cats need litter boxes scooped. And even bunnies and guinea pigs needs their cages cleaned and exercise. And regardless of their reputation of independence, all pets need and crave attention and play in order to thrive.
Shelters are full of pets that have been returned because they were unwanted pets, leading to unnecessary euthanasia.
If an animal is not wanted, it could be ignored.
The holidays are usually a time of chaos and it is a really bad time to bring an animal into a home, where routines are broken and people are coming and going. To integrate an animal into a household, an animal needs to have a routine established.
It is important to consider the recipient. Is it a child who will get bored with the pet, and then the care defaults to the mother? Or is it for an elderly person who could conceivably pass on before the pet? What happens to the pet then? Or what happens if a couple decides to have a baby? These are all factors that we cannot, or should not, have to decide.
So if you want to help the animals this season, you can do one of the following things:
1. Give a gift certificate to the intended recipient and they can pick out their own companion when they are ready; or give a gift basket of supplies they will need
2. Give the shelter a donation to use for their programs, or for whichever program you feel is closest to your heart (spay/neuter, education, adoption, etc)
3. Volunteer your time
4. If it is a quiet holiday for you, foster and give an animal a break from a cage
5. Adopt your own
There are many thousands of no-kill shelters and rescue groups throughout the country. One website I found, No Kill Network, has a map to click on for a list of no-kill shelters in your state. Alternately, you can simply Google search for no-kill animal shelters in your local area. I was surprised at how many organizations there are in Oregon. I know many friends and family members who have adopted loving, lifetime family pets from no-kill shelters and rescues. If a pet isn't in your plans right now, that is totally okay! But maybe you want to help a no-kill shelter or have some time, money or space in your home to donate. Be sure to do your research about the organization you want to support. Many well-known organizations like the HSUS, ASPCA and PETA are NOT no-kill organizations.
And remember: spay or neuter your pet!