It’s New Year’s Eve. Tonight we will celebrate the coming of a new year. But what will you do tomorrow? And each day after that in 2015?
Almost every day I hear people say, “I could never work in a shelter; it makes me too sad. I would want to take them all home.” Almost every day I tell people, “You don’t have to work in a shelter to make a difference. There are simple things you can do each day to help us save our shelter pets and make life better for your own pets.”
Today, I’d like to challenge you to resolve to do some of those simple things:
1. Spay or Neuter Your Pets. If your pets are already spayed or neutered, congratulations! You have already taken a huge step toward helping to end pet homelessness. The math is simple to understand–the fewer pets we bring into the world, the fewer pets will end up homeless. Every Spring our shelter is inundated with litters of unwanted puppies and kittens. They come in by the containerful. . . rubbermaid totes, cardboard boxes, or wrapped in blankets. Many of them are orphans. . . left behind by a mother who may have been homeless herself and took her last breath bringing one more litter into the world. Spaying and neutering is critical in ending this cycle of pet homelessness. Don’t worry. Dogs and cats will not become extinct. You will still be able to find adorable purebred pups if that’s your cup of tea. However, the truth is that your pet will be healthier, happier, and safer once he or she is “fixed.” So do it. Do it soon. It’s important. If your own pets are fixed, spread the word and offer to help fix other pets. Talk to your co-workers, next door neighbors, and crazy relatives. There are low-cost options available. Find out more at https://spcabc.wordpress.com/low-cost-spay-neuter-clinic/ and http://www.fixatfour.com.
2. Prepare for the Unthinkable. Right now, go check. Is every single one of your pets wearing a well-fitted collar with a legible identification tag? Have you looked at the contact information on the tags lately? Can you actually read it? Pets arrive at our shelter all the time who are clean, well-fed, and clearly well-loved. . . but we can’t get them home because they have no identification or their tags are illegible. It breaks my heart. Sometimes pets go missing and a well-intentioned person picks them up and takes them home. . . sometimes many miles away. . . and then the pet ends up in a shelter in another city. Did you know that Southern Brazoria County alone has over a dozen different places where stray animals can be taken? Each place has different policies, but most only hold found pets from three to ten days. . . will you be able to find your pet within that short window? What if your pet gets lost while you are traveling or during a hurricane evacuation? Your pet’s best chance at getting back home is a good identification tag. Once that’s done, check it off your list, and then get your pets microchipped! A microchip permanently identifies your pet. If your pet is lost or stolen, you can prove that he or she is yours. If your pet gets lost, and the collar slips off or is taken off, the microchip will still be there. Most shelters scan microchips at intake. At SPCA of Brazoria County, we have reunited pets with their families many, many, many times through microchips. Some of these pets had been missing for weeks and even months, and some from far away places. SPCA of Brazoria County offers HomeAgain microchips for only $25. . . a small price to pay for peace of mind.
3. Make Adoption Your Only Option. Don’t go looking for love in all the wrong places. Shelters are jam-packed full of perfectly perfect pets, so go get one. Buying a pet in a parking lot or from Craig’s list is not rescuing a pet. It is supporting a terrible trade in lives. Shelters and rescues are certain to have exactly the pet you are looking for. . . just be patient. If you are looking for a particular breed, google a city near you and the name of the breed and the word “rescue.” You will be surprised at how many breed-specific rescues you will find. Walk the rows of your local animal shelter or scroll through PetFinder. . . you will find every breed, age, color, mix, and personality you can imagine. If you don’t go look, you’ll never know, and you may miss out on the love of a lifetime. Whoever said “money can’t buy love” never paid an adoption fee!
4. Let A Homeless Pet Crash at Your Place for a While. Life in a shelter is stressful; there’s no getting around it. Dogs and cats are healthier and happier when they live in homes with people. Take the stress out of being homeless for a shelter pet by giving him a space in your home, yard, or garage. Fostering saves TWO lives. . .the one you foster, and the one who gets the much-needed space at the shelter. There are many different types of foster needs: puppies and kittens who are vulnerable to germs in the shelter, pregnant and nursing mothers, bottle babies, pets with medical needs, pets who just need T.L.C. While you are fostering, you can help prepare your foster pet for life with another family by teaching some basic house rules and letting him learn to love and trust again. The feeling you get when you send your foster pet home with a new family, knowing that you saved that precious life, is something truly wonderful.
5. Share Your Talents. Whatever it is that you can do, we can use your talents, time, skills, and love. Join other animal lovers who work each day to make the world a better place for homeless pets. Some volunteers help out every day, some help once each week, and some help a few times each year. You don’t have to jump in with both feet. . . dip your toes in to see how it feels. . . you may find that you quickly become addicted to the unconditional love a shelter pet will lavish upon you. Whatever it is that you love to do, we can use that skill at the shelter! Walking dogs and playing with cats are part of the job that our volunteers do, but we can also use MICRO-VOLUNTEERS. Work at one event. Take a few photos of shelter pets for our Facebook page. Tweet for us. Network and share our information. Work at one spay neuter clinic. Be a “Pet Detective” to help reunite lost pets with their families. Organize a donation drive. Enter data. Make copies. File papers. Deliver Ani-Meals. Whatever it is that you do best, you can do it for us and make a difference in the lives of homeless pets!
6. Donate to Save Homeless Pets! Time, money, stuff. It doesn’t matter, we’ll take whatever you can give. If you have a few bucks, we can put it to good use. If you have old blankets, toys, pet beds, leashes, we can use them. If you are decluttering your home or office, our thrift store can sell your old stuff and use the proceeds to spay and neuter pets! You can host a donation drive at your home or business to gather much-needed supplies, your kids can host a shelter-themed birthday party and ask for donations as birthday gifts, you can host a small event at your home or office to raise funds for our organization, or you can participate on our Fundraising Team and help us plan, promote, and staff great fundraising events. It’s expensive to save lives. . . but worth every single penny!
7. Walk with a Buddy. Is one of your New Year’s Resolutions to get fit? Why not leash up your pooch and take on that challenge together with daily walks and play time? Pull out that laser pointer and send your cat into exercise bliss. Or better yet, come up to the shelter at 141 Canna Lane in Lake Jackson, borrow a buddy, and you’ll never have to walk alone again. The Wilderness Trail is right around the corner from us, or you can hit the track at MacLean Park. You’ll be getting fit, and giving a homeless pet much needed exercise at the same time. . . it’s a win-win! Pets who exercise and spend time outside of their normal daily environment are healthier and happier. But guess what. . . so are you! So get started today and enjoy some good play time with your pet. Stay tuned for our Getting Fit with Fido launch early in 2015. . . we’ll make exercise fun for you and our shelter pets!
8. Do the Stray Cat Strut. Stray cat, feral cat, outdoor cat, community cat. . . these are all terms to describe cats that live outdoors with little human interaction. These cats should not be brought to shelters where they are likely to be killed. People who value and safeguard the lives of animals realize that these cats add value to our community and have a right to live peacefully in their environments. Learn the truth about feral cats and what is best for them and our community. The SPCA of Brazoria County has a Community Cat program designed for outdoor/feral cats. For $45, these cats can be spayed or neutered, vaccinated with FVRCP and rabies vaccinations, and have their ears notched. They can be released back into their environments or relocated to areas where they are welcome, where they will live normal healthy lives without continuing to reproduce . Get the facts at http://www.alleycat.org.
9. Save a Heart; Save A Life. Over half the dogs who enter our shelter are heart worm positive. In the “old days” being heart worm positive was the kiss of death for a shelter pet simply because treatment was too expensive. It doesn’t have to be that way. We have been extraordinarily successful in treating our heart worm positive dogs, and it’s all thanks to the wonderful people who sponsor heart worm treatments. It can cost anywhere from $125 to treat a small dog all the way up to $550 or more to treat a larger dog. We are always looking for people who will sponsor one of our heart worm positive dogs, providing a lifesaving heart worm treatment. But even better than treating a heart worm positive dog–help us get the word out about prevention. Are your own dogs on a year-round monthly heart worm preventative? If not, please talk to your veterinarian today–your dog’s life just might depend upon it! And if you have all your bases covered and you are already protecting your own dogs’ hearts, consider reaching out and helping someone else. Talk to your friends and neighbors and make sure they know the facts about heart worms: they are very difficult and expensive to treat, can be deadly, but are very simple to prevent. Learn more at https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/heartworm-basics
10. Speak Up for Those Who Cannot Speak for Themselves. We are their caregivers, their companions, their advocates, and their voices. In return, they give us unconditional love and loyalty. I have seen animals who have suffered the worst forms of abuse still wag their tails or purr when petted. They trust us, even after we have failed them. If we don’t speak up for them, then who will? If you make no other resolution this year, please make this one: speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. If you see cruelty or neglect, report it to your local law enforcement. . . and then follow up, and follow up, and follow up. Our local laws are insufficient to protect our animals. . . lobby your local politicians for change. If your local shelter is euthanizing more pets than they are placing into homes, find out why and demand that they change. Use social media to help lost pets find their way home, to help abandoned pets find new homes, to save the lives of pets in shelters. Be the change. You can make a difference. You just have to resolve to do it.
I hope these resolutions will inspire you. We at the SPCA of Brazoria County wish you and your family (both two-legged and four-legged) a Happy Happy Happy New Year. Here’s to 2015!