Dog Ownership Support
I volunteer with the Humane Society, which I find very personally rewarding. I don’t put a lot of time into it, but what I do put it into warms my heart.. I foster, and I man an adoption shift once or twice a month, and I drive cats and dogs to the vet to get spayed or neutered or get vaccinated for people who can’t take their pets in themselves or can’t afford the services.
It makes me feel good every time I help a cat or dog find a loving home, or when our group helps someone get their cat or dog spayed or neutered, or treated for fleas, or get medicine for an illness. I’d say that three-quarters of our work ends up being fostering and adopting out cats and dogs that otherwise would get put down, and I find that work to be extremely fulfilling. Most of these cats and dogs are pulled from the local shelters and put into our foster program.
The other quarter of our work ends up being in the realm of service to dog owners and cat owners who can’t care properly for their pets for one reason or another. For example, just a few weeks ago, we got a call from an elderly woman who had a dozen dogs and about a dozen cats, all unfixed, all on the brink of starvation. We took all of her pets into our program, treated them all for fleas, ticks, heartworm (preventative meds), got them spayed, neutered and vaccinated, and helped her find homes for all but the oldest two dogs, which she kept.
Why We Need to Provide Dog Ownership Support
It’s easy to think poorly of this woman, isn’t it? We see the flea-ridden, starving pups in her yard and get angry. Some of us want to punish her. But before we judge, I think it’s important to ask ourselves: How did this happen? And how can we help?
For example, the woman I mentioned as an example is an elderly woman who had just lost her husband (and therefore most of her income.) She found a stray dog, so she started feeding it. Because she was feeding the dog outside, more dogs showed up, and soon she had three stray dogs, all grateful to her for the food and love, which she lavished upon them. She had enough money to feed them, but really, she didn’t have enough to provide the rest of the care to them, so they started breeding and multiplying.
This poor sweet woman, who was so desperate for their love and felt responsible for them, was afraid to turn them into animal control because she was quite sure they’d get put down. She didn’t want the situation to get out of control, but it did (and quickly), and when she finally did get help, she was in waaaaaay over her head.
Was she bad-hearted? Cruel? Merciless? No. This woman was exactly the opposite of all of those qualities. She was good-hearted and loving, which is why she started feeding the initial stray dog in the first place. She was too soft-hearted to turn any of them away, and she was too loving to dare turn them in to a shelter. She needed help and guidance, and once provided that help and support, she is now a responsible pet owner.
How Can We Provide Dog Ownership Support to Those Around Us?
This is the key question, isn’t it? How can we support dog owners instead of judging those who are struggling?
Consider the following ways to support your community:
Keep a list of low cost spay and neuter clinics on your fridge and give out the information when you suspect someone isn’t spaying or neutering their animals. Be ready to kindly and gently explain why it’s important to spay and neuter if you aren’t going to breed (and breed responsibly.)
Investigate (with respect) to make sure low-income neighbors can afford to feed their pets (and themselves.) If they are struggling financially, see if there are any local support groups who might donate dog food for them.
See if elderly or disabled neighbors need to have groceries or pet food delivered to their door. You’d be surprised at how many pet owners are unable to transport those heavy bags of dog food or kitty litter by themselves, so they make due with substitutions and try to stretch resources so as to have to shop less often. This isn’t because they don’t love their pets. Many disabled and elderly people need their pets so very much and may consider their pets to be their primary (or even solitary) source of emotional comfort and companionship.
This love doesn’t make it easier to haul dog food or kitty litter, though! Help your neighbor get set up on a pet food or grocery delivery service (some of these, like PetBest, deliver for free), or donate a shipment of pet food to a needy neighbor anonymously. By helping your neighbor, you’ll make the world a better place.
Giving Back to the World, One Dog at a Time
I know I can’t rescue every dog in need. Sometimes that makes me very sad, and sometimes I struggle with wondering if I’m doing enough. I just tell myself that every time I help one dog or cat, I’m making the world a better place, and I hope my one act of kindness for that week will have a ripple effect that will reach far and wide.
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.