Our four-legged friends are suffering from the current economic crunch as much or more than we, the public. Most (if not all) animal shelters operate primarily on private and public donations as well as by hands-on volunteers. Veterinarian care services are also often provided on a volunteer basis to the varying community animal shelters.
Unfortunately, the negative impact of today’s economics is leaving the thousands of animal shelters throughout the country underfunded. Community volunteering and donations to local animal shelters are down, especially in rural areas and counties consisting of low income towns and cities. The unemployed, underemployed, and those folks on tight or fixed incomes are less likely to have discretionary funds available to donate to charity. Many of these same families are finding it difficult to support the pets they have along with managing their own essential bills (home, food, child care, etc.).
Some folks feel that they can’t care for their pets any longer due to costs, and some of these same people either let their pets loose in neighborhoods, deposit them near veterinary clinics, or at animal shelters. All too often we find these pets left to hunger, the environment, and to torment by ill mannered people. In one case we found two very docile dogs with matching collars, and one dog obviously ill, left to survive in a State-County Park. Local veterinarians and the shelter are finding pets dropped off at their door, tied to the door handles, and dropped off in boxes. In one case a veterinarian told us that a car drove into the parking lot and tossed a crippled kitten out of the car window then quickly drove off the clinic lot. We hear the same thing from our county animal shelter.
Every shelter would prefer to be a “no-kill” shelter; however, that hasn’t always been possible for shelters that have greatly exceeded their capacity to house and support the overwhelming numbers of cats and dogs being dropped off or surrendered to animal shelters across the country. The ability of these shelters to avoid the disheartening act of selecting and euthanizing animals in order to reduce the shelters population to a manageable number has all to do with how much support the facility gets from the community, the county as well as, state and national organizations.
Give often: We are big advocates of providing regularly scheduled donations to the animal shelters. We decided many years ago that instead of spending money on each other for birthdays, anniversaries, and holiday gifts, we always donate that same amount of money (or more) to our county animal shelter. We try to equal or exceed what we think we would have spent and then deliver or mail those funds to the animal shelter. On a few occasions we’ve order pet beds, food, and supplies on-line and had them delivered directly to the animal shelter.
Please volunteer to assist your local animal shelter whether through monetary support, material supplies or as a volunteer to assist the shelter’s staff. Take the time to go into one of those facilities and talk with the shelter staff to see if they have any specific needs for the animals in the way of bedding, blankets, paper towels, litter, food, etc., you might find that they are just as happy to have you bring the supplies into the shelter versus cash donations. When you do the purchasing and delivery of the resources it saves the limited staff the time to do the same thing. Again, the shelter staff will greatly appreciate whatever help you can provide.
As for our local animal shelter, the Humane Society of Preble County, Ohio, runs solely on individual donations, memberships, and adoption fees. Please give to your local animal shelter and adopt pets from those shelters or those left abandon to the streets. Don’t support breeders. Spade and neuter your pets. There are thousands of pets in shelters in need of homes now.