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From Names to Numbers: Tails of Forgotten Friends

April 26, 2009

By Leeanna Baugh

The recent downward spiral of our economy has begun to affect even the four-legged members of our families. The number of people giving away and dumping their animals has never been higher. Although many people feel that they have run out of options for their animals, there are always better options than dumping them. The hard truth that people have to face is that animals are expensive, and animals cannot take care of themselves. When the economy is good people may decide to get puppies, solely because they are “cute”, but that person may fail to look farther down the road and may act entirely on impulse.

When the economy takes a hit, people’s pets are the first things to go. Many people are forced to choose between feeding their children, or feeding their pets; but these people cannot bare the thought of taking their animal to the shelter, so they just let them go. These people think that their beloved family dog will find a new home, a new family to love. But the reality of it is that a middle aged dog has little chance of finding a new home; they usually get picked up by animal control, kept for a few days and put to sleep.

In today’s economy, money is tight and pets have not gotten any cheaper. The government-run kill shelters have been forced to lower the “stray hold” for the animals that they have picked up; some places now only give the animals 48 hours before euthanasia. The massive influx of animals has affected the “No-Kill” shelters as well; these shelters keep the animal as long as it takes to get it adopted, maybe even a lifetime. As a result of our poor economic standings, the No-Kill shelters have been forced to become much more selective about the animals that they admit into their programs; only the “highly adoptable” will make it though.

Many rescues are turning to the public for help. In recent months the public has stepped up to help with the homeless animal crisis; by volunteering and fostering. I am currently fostering three, five week old puppies that would have been put to sleep for lack-of-room at Animal Control. With regular people taking animals into their homes to socialize, train, and care for, it leaves more room in the government-run shelters for the animals that have found themselves in a less- fortunate situation.
The foster animals are still provided for by the shelters, belong to the shelters and will be forced to leave their foster-parents at some point. However, for people who want to help the animals, fostering is a great option. For people who are considering getting a pet, fostering may also be an educational experience before actually getting your own puppy. With a foster in your home you will realize how much time, care and work an animal really requires, and you will be able to decide if you really do have the time and patience to have an animal of our own.

If you are interested in volunteering or fostering, contact your local animal shelter for more information. We brought these animals into our lives and now we must work together, despite the bad economy, to give them the love and care that they deserve.

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