Hands down – the greatest joy in my life is the ultra luxurious and comfortable inside-only home environment I have been able to sustain for my personal pets and foster animals. Bailey's early life had a couple small hiccups (all his Mommy's fault) but since, he has lived a very charmed life with lots of food, attention, play time, walks in the park, toys, treats and warm dry places to lay his head. After he passes, I will remain eternally thankful for this gift I have given to him each day of his life.
The same is true for my feline children – they are oblivious to hunger and fear, and it nevers rains or snows in their world. Their entire existance has been spent in "play mode" in stark contrast to feral and homeless animals who live and perish in "survival mode". Wouldn't it be wonderful if every dog and every cat could live a life of comfort and security, just like my babies and yours?
At Bailey's Gift, we believe the birth of every animal should be a joyously anticipated event. Instead, it is a very sad daily occurence and enormous burden. As new babies take their first breaths, shelter workers are busy euthanizing the orphaned litters of last month.
For extreme pet overpopulation to end – we must actively embrace spay/neuter programs as a planet. Animal reproduction transcends all borders and so does cruelty and exploitation of defenseless animals. Additionally, our world must bear witness to the amazing contributions of service dogs, K-9 officers, therapy cats and the heroic actions of family pets. These animals are worth saving, they are worth protecting and they have much more to give us than we often realize. Having a badly behaved dog is frustrating and emotionally draining but having a well-trained dog is fun. When you put in the time and effort, the rewards are tremenduous and we begin to realize what is possible.
I know, I know, these goals are lofty for a world that presently bets on dog fights, ignores the feral cat epidemic and turns a cavalier shoulder to centuries of inhumane slaughter, live-skinning, and poaching of all species perpetrated by the Peoples Republic of China, under the guise of "tradition" and "culture". Shame on China and shame on the rest of us for letting it continue.
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
– Mohandas Gandhi
Here are a couple of guidelines you can implement to transform your life as well as the lives of the animals you encounter. Following these guidelines will enable you become a positive example for other well-intentioned animal lovers you'll meet on your journey. Together, we will continue to save animals, one at a time, one after another. "We can't save every animal in the world...but we can give the world to every animal we save."
1. Responsible Ownership Starts at Home
So you want to help animals? You care and you want to end pain and suffering? Great! Welcome to the fight – you need not become a full-fledged shelter volunteer, kennel attendant or fundraising powerhouse to make a difference in the lives of suffering animals. Start by being the best "pet parent" you can be. Lead by example; your friends, family members and neighbors will take note of your happy and healthy, socialized pets. Only then can you start offering suggestions to your neighbors.
2. Don't Breed & Buy when Shelter Animals Die
Nearly every animal who ends up in a shelter kennel represents one (or more) cold-hearted person(s) who made one (or more) poor choices. The events leading to an animal's incarceration are not a reflection of the animal's worth as a family pet and loyal companion. It's more of a reflection of the person who abandoned their commitment. Can you even imagine having a crappy home one day and no home the next day? You wouldn't move without accomodating your children but some people do. And as long as there are horrid people, there will be good people like you and I who will move heaven and earth to improve quality of life for all discarded pets.
Shelters screen and evaluate all animals before classifying them as "adoptable". In sharp contrast, breeders "sell" animals based on aesthetics and the ability to "show well", usually with little consideration given to temperament.
The next time you want another dog or cat, please consider adopting and rescuing one of the many healthy animals losing hope in puppy-prison and on doggy death row. Remember each of these orphans is depending on the kindness of a random person who will rescue them, love them and protect them for all their remaining days. That random person can be you! Give the gift of life; give the gift of second chances and new beginnings. Rescued pets are grateful pets!
3. People who Love Animals do not Breed Animals!
People who love animals, do not seek to profit from their reproduction. People who are saddened by the euthansia of healthy puppies and kittens do not seek to fill shelters with more, while simultaneously depleting the pool of potential adopters and available homes. Some breeders just don't care and the rest are naive to believe they are selling their puppies to "good people" who will alter (spay/neuter) them and keep them for the next 20 years. Newsflash: Shelters are full of purebred animals purchased, found or otherwise acquired by the "good people" of the world. Unfortunately, it is all too rare for any animal to stay with their original owners permanently. Let's change that, it's your time to ROAR.
4. Report Acts of Cruelty and Neglect
Don't Wait! The animals suffer in silence
Does Animal Prescint and Animal Cops make you cry? Do the stories of cruelty keep you awake at night? Don't worry, it's normal and natural to be devastated by horrific animal abuse and neglect. It is very upsetting for me because I tend to focus on the fact that the "good samiritans" waited to contact animal control when the problem first started. This is too often the case, people see what is going on but they don't want to meddle, so they wait, and wait, until the situation is DIRE. Nothing is more frustrating for animal advocates and animal control officers than "coming to the rescue" too late. No matter what the circumstances are, we always feel a sense of failure and personal loss every time our efforts fall short.
Animal control and law enforcement will always depend on the people who know what horrors are happening next door and around the corner. Animal control only shows up when there is a complaint, so please encourage people to report what you see, when you see it, and keep reporting it until somebody listens. If something is happening that is painful and unpleasant for an animal today, it will only be worse tomorrow and next week, not better. The longer you turn your head and "hope for the best" and try to "mind your own business" the more likely it is that we will be powerless and our efforts to intervene, rescue, and rehabilitate will be futile. The worst part about animal rescue is getting there too late to rescue. This contributes to "hero fatigue" and burnout for our most dedicated field service officers. It truly sucks to be relegated to picking up dead bodies when your aim is to save lives.
Please remember YOU are the voice of every animal you cross paths with. Ask yourself, if I say nothing, who will, if I do nothing, who will? The sad realtiy is YOU may be the ONLY person in the world who can stop the suffering for that particular animal. As inconvenient as it may be for you to stop what you're doing long enough to report or document mistreatment and neglect, it is always worse for the animal or animals who endure the abuse first-hand because of your continued silence.