Animals in Need of Rescue
At an intersection of two rural roads – with no farm site within a reasonable distance – she sat there, scared and confused. A bag of dog food sat open next to her, and the tall grass she cowered in had already contributed to an exceptional number of wood ticks taking advantage of her misfortune. Trevor’s drive home from work suddenly became less than routine, as he simply had to pull over to check on this poor dog.
Despite her boney spine and hips hiding under her unbrushed coat, it soon became clear she was pregnant and likely dumped for this reason. Her uncertainty of his intention was apparent. Shrinking back and even urinating in fear, she came out of the grass. With groceries in the back seat, Trevor needed to make some adjustments if he was going to rescue her from this obvious abandonment. He opened the trunk and spoke reassuring words to her as he transferred the purchases. A loaf of bread became his peace offering, creating a Hansel & Gretel trail of breadcrumbs from her into the back seat. It worked like a charm.
The rest of the evening was spent setting up her new temporary home. The extra 12×12 kennel and doghouse in the backyard were prepared for the overnight with soft beds and plenty of food and water. “Daisy” became the name of choice, and introduction to the two permanent housedog residents (also rescues) was peaceful. Daisy was amazingly sweet and trusting despite her apprehension, and she calmly explored the fenced in yard. This led her to the discovery of rawhide bones left outside by the spoiled dogs that lived there. She spent the night enjoying their discarded treats in a warm bed.
For one week, the rescue family spent lots of time giving belly rubs, feeding her well, and quickly gaining her trust. Her hesitation eased, and her happy-go-lucky personality was unmistakable. Daisy also demonstrated an understanding of some basic commands. She played well with other dogs of all sizes. Children were welcomed with kisses. Her comfort with strangers was getting better every day. This dog was exceptional despite her previous circumstances.
The adventure quickly got under way. A trip to the vet for a check up and an x-ray showed at least nine puppies waiting for their moment to arrive in this world. Less than 48 hours after that vet appointment, Trevor’s wife was helping clean off Daisy’s babies, one by one, as she brought her litter into this world during a rainstorm.
That was seven weeks ago. Today, the ten healthy, happy puppies are ready to be adopted and get their “second chance” at life the first time around. Daisy is looking to be adopted into her forever home, as well.
It’s Not Unusual
As sad as this story appears to have started, and regardless of how hopeful it is to find a happy ending, this is not an unusual scenario across the country. All too often, pets are lost, or abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Some are lucky to find refuge and assistance, but not all are so fortunate.
Nationally, shelters are seeing increased trends of abandoned or neglected animals, perhaps a direct connection to the economy. But numbers also tend to increase during warmer months. Local rescues are also experiencing surges of animals in the pounds. Approximately 5 to 7 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide every year, with 60 percent of the dogs and 70 percent of cats being euthanized. This is an astonishing number. Local percentages were not as drastic as these national numbers, but were on an increasing trend last year from 2009. In 2010, the figures from the pounds in the FM area showed that 446 cats and 42 dogs were euthanized. (see chart on page 23 for specific pound statistics from the last six years)
The best thing to do when you find an animal is to contact authorities and ensure that animal gets to the local pound. This gives the owner the best chance to find their pet and be reunited. Local rescues in the Red River Valley then utilize their volunteer foster homes and/or shelters to take those animals that haven’t been claimed and give them a chance to be adopted, rather than be euthanized when their “time is up” at the pound.
They key to this system is having the resources to be able to rescue these unclaimed animals from the pound. Perhaps the biggest and most important asset is the foster home. There is often an urgent need for foster homes on a weekly basis in the FM area.
A foster home is a temporary residence for a pet to be until the organization is able to find it a permanent home. Many rescues are volunteer-based and are always in need of more approved foster homes to be able to rescue animals from the pounds for a second chance at life. Generally, rescue organizations provide the food, medical care, etc for the animal until it finds its forever home, so it is no cost to the approved foster home. Please consider becoming an approved foster home for any of the local rescues and visit their websites for foster home applications and more contact information if you have any questions on their individual policies.
There’s Always a Way to Help
Perhaps becoming a foster home isn’t an option for you. That’s okay. No matter who you are – there is a way you can help.
First of all, spay/neuter the pets you DO have, and encourage every pet owner you know to do the same. The cost of spaying or neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising the puppies or kittens for one year.
Consider donating time, money, or supplies. The various organizations’ websites often have a list of needed supplies. Gift cards are also great. Sometimes animals are in need of extensive medical care and donations can be designated to a specific surgery or sponsor a specific animal. And don’t forget the free gift you can give: time. It’s a fantastic way to help these organizations by helping with fundraisers, volunteering, and even by helping walk dogs or clean cages; you’re making an impact. Contact your shelter of choice to see how you can volunteer.
Another free way you can help? Spread the word. Encourage others to become an approved foster home. Share your great experience with a pet you may have rescued. Educate others on the impact of their decisions when it comes to pet ownership. Suggest they adopt.
Perhaps you’re thinking of getting or adding another pet to your home. Don’t think your only option is to buy that cute puppy or kitten in the pet store window. Many pet stores are supplied by puppy mills and breeders. Adopting a dog instead of buying one, for example, is a great way to fight against puppy mills. Shelters have a wide variety of dogs and cats available to find the right one for your lifestyle. It may be surprising to know that about 25% of dogs that enter shelters are purebred, but mixed-breed dogs also make wonderful pets. Not only do mixed breeds offer you the physical and behavioral benefit of two or more breeds’ characteristics in one animal, but you also get a pet that is less prone to genetic defects. If you still opt to buy your next pet from a breeder, make sure they are responsible and visit their premises to ensure the conditions your pet is coming from.
If You Need to Make Changes
It should be understood that there are several options for people to pursue before taking such drastic and inappropriate measures to disposing their unwanted pet on the streets or out in the country.
One helpful tool that not everyone may know about is courtesy postings. Several rescue organizations will list people’s dogs on their web site as courtesy postings to help the owner gain exposure to find a new home for their pet. The organization does not assist in any expenses, have any affiliation with the listed pets, or filter out potential homes/adopters, but will list the pet’s photo and description for current pet owners to try and find a new home for their pet if that has become their decision.
Tips for Pet Owners:
If you’re going to adopt a pet, or already have a furry member of the family, take into consideration these tips:
– Have current pictures of your pets on hand to submit to the appropriate outlets for exposure in case your pet becomes lost. Know and be able to describe any unique characteristics.
– Know where your local pound is, and don’t just count on a description over the phone to suffice. Check in person, and often, to see if your pet has been picked up by animal control.
– Make sure your pet has a collar and tags with your contact information. Check the fit of the collar and the condition of the tags frequently. Collars that slip off or tags that can no longer be read will not be of help if your pet somehow ventures away from home.
– Have your pet microchipped. Local shelters periodically offer microchip clinics where pet owners can come without an appointment and have their pet chipped for a small fee. Or, ask your vet about microchipping your pet. This small action can save time, money, and heartache if your pet ever gets lost.
Local shelters and rescue organizations:
Other Shelters in the Region:
Online search tool for adoptable pets: