Charity Magazine

You Can Save a Life This Year!

By Thesheltershack @sheltershack

Richie went from the shelter to a rescue and was then adopted!

Many people ask me how it is I can volunteer at a shelter that euthanizes. They think that since I go there I must condone the action. I can tell you that I absolutely do not! There is NO GOOD REASON to euthanize an adoptable pet. These same folks are also of the mindset that they will never adopt from or support an organization that does this. In their minds they think by not supporting it, then that means the shelter will get the message and stop doing such an activity. Right?

While these folks have their hearts in the right place, their logic is out of whack. There is a never ending stream of pets coming into the shelters, and these shelters won’t turn them away. When someone decides not to adopt or support a shelter that euthanizes, what they are in effect doing is contributing to the euthanasia. After all, they are one less person going through those doors to adopt, they are one less person volunteering their time to help these pets get into rescue and they are one less person advocating adoption of these animals to their family and friends. It’s not the pet’s fault that it landed in a shelter that euthanizes, so why would you turn your back on them just because of the shelter they’re in?

That’s my opinion and the reason why I volunteer. I can’t turn my back on them. There’s no question that volunteering at a shelter that euthanizes can be difficult emotionally. One minute you’re elated because your favorite just got adopted and the next minute you’re crying because your other favorite is leaving in a body bag. It can knock you on your ass. But I keep going for the ones that are still there. They still have a chance at getting out and living a happy life. But they need help in order to get out. There are only so many hours in the day, and the shelters are generally understaffed and the staff is overworked. Volunteers play such an important role in the lives of these pets. Here are some ways volunteers can help:

  • Become a foster parent – The pet you foster is actually saving two lives. The one you foster, and the one that can now take the space of the cage just vacated. Keep in mind that the shelter may want you to volunteer for a certain length of time before they will allow you to foster. They want to know that you’re going to stick around and that you’re trustworthy.
  • Contact rescues – Do you have a favorite breed? Chances are there’s a rescue that deals with that breed. Reach out to them to see if they’ll help out should that breed land in the shelter.
  • Transport pets – You might find a rescue willing to take one of your pets, but you’re in Kentucky and the rescue is in Ohio. Volunteers are needed all of the time to help drive these pets from one leg to the next to get the pet from your shelter to the rescue group.
  • Website maintenance and social media – If you’re tech savvy, sign up to help with the shelter’s website. The website expands the reach of the pet beyond the physical location. The more ways you can communicate to the public about a pet you have, the greater the chance the pet will get adopted. This includes promoting the pets on sites like Petfinder, Adopt-a-Pet, Facebook and Twitter.
  • Photograph or video tape pets for the shelter’s website – They say a picture is worth a thousand words. A good picture can make a world of difference in getting that pet adopted. Videos add so much more to the story. It gives the potential adopter a chance to see its personality before they stop down to meet it.

Bear was treated for heartworm and entropion thanks to fundraising efforts. He was adopted!

  • Fundraising – Many pets come into the shelter with medical conditions that are very treatable (i.e. heartworm, demodectic mange, broken bones, etc). If the shelter has no money to treat these conditions, then the pet doesn’t stand a chance. These medical conditions can take several weeks to treat which is one more reason fostering is so important. Shelters generally don’t have the luxury of letting a pet sit in a cage to undergo weeks of healing time.
  • Grooming – Some of the pets you’ll see in shelters were severely neglected and it will break your heart to see the condition they are in. Generally speaking potential adopters will look at this pet and feel sorry for it, but they aren’t able to look beyond the mess and see what a beautiful pet it can be. They’ll keep walking. If you’re good with clippers, there’s sure to be a pet in dire need of a spa day! Check out the video below of Muppet’s transformation!

Becoming a no-kill nation won’t happen over-night, but if we can each resolve to do our part, just imagine what we can accomplish. It just takes one person to make a difference in the life of a shelter pet. Are you that one person? I am.

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