Monday, August 16, 2010
Don't Pity the Shelter Dog
Okay, it's an advertising line for Pedigree Dog Food, but it's true--don't pity the Shelter dog.
Pity never helped anyone, dog or person. Pity is easy, cheap and pointless. The key is to do something. I always have to tamp down the inclination to get hacked off when people come up to our Off-Site animals and say, "Oh, I could never do you what you are doing."
It's not rocket science, folks. It's not a 26-mile foot race. It's not a solo piano concert at Carnegie hall. It's just taking some sort of action. I know there are many reasons why some animal lovers can't do some aspects of the sort of volunteer work I do--allergies, parental responsibilities, incompatible work schedules, a reluctant spouse. You know, life stuff.
But don't give me lame excuses and expect me to absolve you of your pity. I don't have the time. It's hot out right now. The dogs are arriving in greater numbers at the Shelter. Those in charge of the County coffers are having second thoughts about taking the Shelter to a No-Kill position. Fosters are in short supply. Things are tough all over, and pity doesn't help.
So, here's what you can do next time you see me at an Off-Site event: Put some money in the damn donation jar. Or offer to walk a dog. Buy a box of dog biscuits or a leash or a collar, and donate them to the cause so I don't have to buy these things each week. If I'm by myself at the Off-site, offer to sit and just watch the animals so I can go take a bathroom break. These are the easy things, things you can do anytime you see animal rescue volunteers with adoptable dogs and cats at PetsMart, Petco, or other public places. These things are helpful.
Of course, you could volunteer your time to foster an animal. "Oh, I'd never be able to give them up if I fostered one," I hear people say. Nonsense. You're not taking the animal to keep. You are providing a crate, a bed, good food, a bath, a routine, some basic training, and some love. It's not that complicated. Okay, it's a lot more complicated if you take a sick, injured animal, or a litter of puppies, or a clutch of tiny kittens that need to be bottle-fed, but we have so many animals in need that you have your pick. You don't have to take on the worst case right out the chutes.
Foster homes improve a dog's chances of being adopted. A clean, exercised, well-fed dog is much more likely to find a home. A dog with any kind of a "history"--information a foster learns about the dog's temperament and needs--is much more adoptable. Sure, you take the risk of having a "foster fail" (when you end up keeping the foster animal), but there are folks who can help you avoid that if you feel so tempted. Besides, we all have foster fails.
If you can't do any the things I've suggested, at least do these things:
1.) Spay or neuter all your pets. The world does not need another litter of puppies or kittens.
2.) Don't buy from roadside breeders or "puppy stores."
3.) Make sure your dog is taking monthly heartworm prevention.
4.) Microchip your pet and register the number.
5.) Don't let your dog run loose. Don't keep your dog all day long in a backyard unless you have a properly constructed kennel with shade, shelter and fresh water and food.
6.) Don't chain your dog.
7.) Train your dog so he or she can be a good member of your family.
Above all, don't ever pity the Shelter dog. Adopt one. Foster one. Or donate your time and money. It's not hard to help.