During the holiday season, we ask ourselves what we can do for others. Help a homeless pet, but don’t limit yourself to December: help year-round. Nationwide, nearly eight million pets enter a shelter each year and half never leave. It’s heartbreaking, but you are not powerless. You can give a second chance to a dog or cat. Here’s how you can help.
Prevent your pet from becoming lost
First, simple planning can help get your pet home in case of a mishap or accident. Always walk your dog on a leash, especially in the city. Do not let your cats outside. Pets can get spooked and become lost very quickly. While many find their way home, some do not and are found by animal control and other caring people.
Make returning your pet home easy
All dogs and cats should have an identification tag with your name and phone number and an active microchip. A lost pet with a tag or chip is easily returned home. District Vet uses the HomeAgain chip and can readily administer one to your pet.
Spay and neuter your cats and dogs
A high number of kittens and puppies end up in shelters. Many times people do not want to spay or neuter their pets, thinking that it will alter their pets’ personality or character. This is not the case; instead, it results in unplanned pregnancies.
Plan for the unexpected
If you were suddenly unable to care for your pets, where would they go? Discuss an emergency plan with friends and family, your veterinarian, or a rescue group.
Adopt a homeless dog or cat
The best way to help a homeless pet is to bring him or her home. There are many wonderful pets in shelters and rescues that would give anything to call you mom or dad and sleep on your couch. Here in DC we have the Washington Humane Society, Washington Animal Rescue League, City Dogs Rescue, Alley Cat Allies, and others. A furry friend is waiting for you!
For various understandable reasons, not everyone can welcome pets into their homes long-term. An excellent short-term solution? Foster a pet! “Many rescue organizations need foster homes to care for animals until they are adopted. Foster parents help us learn more about a dog’s behavior, training level and personality so that we can match them with the right forever home,” says Amy McLean, Executive Director of City Dogs Rescue. Many rescues, including City Dogs, provide supplies and medical care for the animals being cared for by their foster families. It’s a great way to provide a happy home to an animal in need without a long-term commitment and, “In return you get lots of love, tail wags, and kisses,” says McLean.
Contribute funds and needed supplies
Another easy way to help is to open your checkbook or log into PayPal and make a tax-deductible donation. “The adoption fee rarely covers costs of veterinary care, supplies, and training resources necessary to keep the animal healthy, safe, and happy,” says McLean. Before you purchase or drop off supplies, be sure to contact an organization to find out what they need and use.
Volunteer your time
City Dogs relies on volunteers to staff adoption events, perform home checks, transport dogs, counsel families, and more. Washington Humane Society has volunteers socialize and walk dogs at the shelters, providing them with love and attention. If you can give a few hours to a rescue or shelter, they will find a way for you to help.
Be a social media friend
Share posts from your favorite rescue or shelter on your social media feeds. The more people who see that loving pets need a home, the less inclined they are to purchase one and the more likely they are to adopt one in need. Post away, many dogs and cats need your help.
Happy holidays from all of us at District Veterinary Hospital.
Originally published in The Hill Rag as The District Vet column, written by Dan Teich, DVM