If people would spay and neuter their pets, there wouldn’t be a problem. If breeders would stop breeding for money, there wouldn’t be a problem. These are just two arguments used over time to solve what some call “the pet problem.”
But these are not solutions that can ever be reasonably applied to our imperfect world. What we can do is provide low-income means to safely spay and neuter animals and we can encourage consumers to only buy from licensed, inspected, humane breeders.
We can also look at the invaluable asset that exists in many of our communities and counties. The local humane societies and rescue shelters. Just a quick peak at our own Lakeshore Humane Society’s mission statement provides us with the answer to “the pet problem.”
“The LHS mission is to ensure humane and compassionate treatment of all animals entrusted to its care, reunite lost animals with their owners, place adoptable animals in responsible and permanent homes, and extend humane education to the public.” (source: www.lakeshorehumane.org/about-us/mission-and-bylaws/)
Reuniting lost animals with their owners. You only have to do a quick Facebook search to see the multitude of posts from organizations alerting followers lost pets to videos of a lost pet being reunited with its heartsick owner to understand the depth of value that pets bring to people’s lives. When a pet goes missing, the pain and heartache is almost unbearable. The reuniting of the two is inspiring to keep going. Humane societies and shelters play a pivotal role, animal control offices, police officers and the general public bring a stray to the shelter for safe keeping and care. The shelter will scan the animal for a microchip, provide food, water, comfort until the owner is found. If the owner declines to pick up the animal or the owner cannot be found, the animal is cared for and placement in a responsible, permanent home is sought.
Placing adoptable animals in responsible and permanent home, this can be challenging for some of the animals. Most shelters will in addition to providing safety and care, will assess an animal for inappropriate behavioral problems and will work with the animal to redirect such behaviors. It is not a perfect solution as time and demand for pets ebbs and flows. In most cases, the shelter will work with the new owner to find suitable training if deemed necessary.
Most shelters, and specifically Lakeshore Humane Society, spay/neuter all of the animals before adoption is final. This invaluable service helps not only the animal and its new family but it helps to stem the tide of unwanted animals loose in the public, being sold or given away to horrible life situations, left to fend for themselves creating unsafe life situations for both the animal and humans.
Extending humane education to the public. While this is achieved differently with each shelter and community, the basis of the education is choosing the right animal for an individual’s life style and resources; finding the proper medical care and training, spaying and neutering your pets; some shelters provide limited medical care including vaccinations; wellness checks and nail trimming. Further education includes the incredible value of microchipping your pet; some shelters place the chip automatically upon intake and will offer low cost placement clinics to other pets in the home.
But there is more that shelters do for the community. Sometimes the best of intentions result in an animal/human relationship that is not positive. Sometimes animals outlive their humans. Sometimes, left with an uncertain future, humans are forced to surrender their animals. Where would these animals go if the shelters did not exist?
In the most recent decades, the tumultuous environment has resulted in natural disasters displacing both humans and animals alike. Shelters are often times the only front line response for the animals and the last hope for their survival.
Humane societies and rescue shelters play a vital role in the health and safety of our pets and our communities. They provide a safe place for lost or surrendered animals, they educate the public on the value of pets as well as making informed care and medical decisions, they help with controlling the animal population.
Until we are in a perfect world, we need to recognize the invaluable asset humane societies and rescue shelters are to our communities and give them all the financial and volunteer support we can to continue to push forward the mission of reunite, shelter, save, adopt and educate.