What cause or movement gets you fired up? Most everyone has something that inspires them to raise their voice a little louder or spend their valuable free time helping to make this world a better place.
For me, my passion for helping animals in need is all-consuming. I’ve made it a high priority to help those who cannot help themselves. Homeless dogs and cats need humans to care about them. They need us to keep them safe, to help them lead healthy and happy lives, and to ensure they have the proper care and nutrition. Nothing deserves a life on the streets full of danger and hardship. I am a voice for the voiceless.
I recently came across a startling DoSomething.org list about animal homelessness in the United States, which includes facts like:
- Each year, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized because they do not get adopted.
- Only 1 out of every 10 dogs born will find a permanent home.
- It’s impossible to know how many stray dogs and cats live in the U.S. but estimates just for cats range up to 70 million.
Are you kidding me? Those numbers are staggering!
Getting a little closer to home, Houston alone has an estimated 1.2 million homeless animals roaming its streets. 1.2 MILLION! And that number continues to rise every year. The shelters are bursting at the seams and there never seems to be enough money or resources to provide adequate care for all of them. There are thousands of dedicated volunteers and animal care workers busting their butts to do what they can, but until we get a handle on the situation, so many animals will needlessly suffer. A life on the streets is no life at all.
I’ve always had a soft spot for dogs. Cats are cool…but I love me some puppies! So when I was asked to join the Board of Directors for Special Pals Shelter in October of 2013, it was a no-brainer. Before joining the Board, I was a financial supporter of the organization. Special Pals is a no-kill shelter, offering low-cost medical care and spay and neuter surgeries to the community, giving pet owners affordable options for providing quality health care to their pets. And most importantly, they give homeless animals a second chance at having a good life.
In addition to serving on the Board, I like to get my family involved, too. When my little guy turned one, we asked friends and family members to make a donation to Special Pals instead of giving a gift. We were able to donate a huge pile of supplies. Check out the photo we took the day we made the delivery!
And when my older son is ready, he is going to start volunteering with me at the shelter. I think he will really enjoy helping to walk some of the smaller dogs. My mom, grandmother, and sisters are supporters as well giving monetary and in-kind gifts to help some of our special shelter animals. I love that they love animals as much as I do…and truly appreciate their support!
Just last month, I attended the Best Friends National Conference on behalf of Special Pals. It was targeted to no-kill shelters and those hoping to become no-kill shelters. It was an amazing experience! Hundreds of animal lovers gathered in one spot to share experiences, offer tips and tricks to running a successful program, provide support and education on a variety of subjects, and help keep everyone focused on why we do what we do. Being in animal rescue is a daunting task. There are so many animals in need and its devastating when we can’t help all that cross our paths. We see so much heartbreak each and every day. It’s easy to lose sight of the good stuff that happens. This conference allows us to celebrate the little things while making strides to end animal suffering across the globe. I’m honored and grateful I could attend.
Find your passion – whatever moves you – and do everything you can to help. Making a difference for someone (or something) else not only helps them but is probably one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself. Coincidentally, there are a few fun holidays coming up that are the perfect excuse for starting your new passion project: National Kindness Day is this Thursday (11/13), Giving Tuesday is on December 2 (so is National Mutt Day!), and International Volunteer Day is on Friday, December 5.
If you’re interested in helping Special Pals, click here to learn about its needs and all the ways you can lend a hand. Another easy way to help is to share one (or all) of these important reminders with your Facebook/Twitter friends:
Do your part to control animal overpopulation – spay/neuter your pets. Spaying or neutering your pet saves lives.
Shelters need the help of the community. Most are not government-funded and rely on solely on individual donors, volunteers, etc. If you can give financially, please do. If not, consider volunteering. Every single person can make a positive difference. Everyone matters.
If you suspect animal abuse or cruelty, notify local law enforcement. Do not try to rectify the situation yourself. But don’t look away or ignore it. If it were a human child being abused, you would do something. Don’t ignore those that can’t speak for themselves.
If you have an elderly or invalid neighbor who has a pet, offer to walk the dog, help with feeding, cleaning the litter box, grooming, picking up pet food and other supplies, driving her to the veterinarian, etc.
As you begin your online holiday shopping, designate “Special Pals” (or another animal protection and welfare organization you love) in the AmazonSmile Amazon donates .05% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice.
To make life easier on those working at rescues and shelters, ensure your pets have an I.D. collar with your phone number on it. Also, microchipping your animal is a must. Many shelters offer low-cost microchipping services. It’s well worth the small investment if your furry friend is lost.
Share your pet! Consider bringing your pet to the local senior center, veterans’ club, or hospital to make others smile. NOTE: Be sure to consider the demeanor of your pet, the needs of the patients, and the policy of the location. Make sure the center gives their permission for you to bring your pet to their location. Don’t just show up with your pet in tow…there are rules and regulations that should be followed to ensure everyone’s safety.
If you’re crafty, knit an adoption vest or soft blanket for those animals waiting for their forever home. During the winter months, many shelters need warm blankets to keep the animals warm. Bolts of fleece work well and can often be purchased on sale during the off-season. Buy cheap and donate when the winter winds blow in!
As the holiday season approaches, remember that it is not okay to give a pet as a gift. Many animals are abandoned within the first few weeks after the holidays because people aren’t prepared to provide the care needed for a puppy or kitten. Always discuss it with your friends and family first.
Never buy an animal from a pet shop – adopt instead. Many pet shops are supplied by puppy mills or irresponsible breeders who contribute to the overpopulation crisis. Most puppy mills overbreed their animals and force them to live in horrific, unsanitary conditions.