Five Things You Can Do to Help Companion Animals in DistressChances are that when you look around your home, you see one or more four-legged creatures gazing patiently back at you: dogs and cats. Recent pet industry statistics show that over 63% of American homes keep pets, and that over 40% of pet-owners think of their pets as highly-valued members of the family. People of all ages, colors, religions, and political persuasions share a profound and fulfilling love for pets. This devotion lightens the dark reality of a nation and world where animal cruelty is rampant.
In America, homeless dog and cat euthanasias number between four to six million dogs and cats every year, according to estimates made by the Humane Society of the United States. (Actual numbers are not collected.) Rescue organizations in major cities such as St. Louis report as many as 50,000 homeless dogs and cats roam within their boundaries, many sick and starving. Uncontrolled breeding is the root cause of these shocking truths. Knowledge of the vast problem can feel overwhelming to an animal-lover.
What can one person do? You can make a difference in your corner of the world—never doubt it. Remember that all changes in the world originally started with one person. Take these 5 simple guidelines to heart.
1. Be a faithful and loving parent to your own “fur family.” You have more influence than you know. Your high standards for pet care will influence your friends and family to be better pet “parents,” too. Spay or neuter your pets, train your young pets well, and care tenderly for your elderly pets. It’s not always easy or inexpensive, but it’s always the right thing to do.
2. Train yourself to be a better Good Samaritan for pets by being more alert to pet suffering. Remember, you might be the only lifeline for that injured or neglected pet. Watch, listen, and call. Carry a completed free wallet card from www.sunbearsquad.org at all times, so important phone numbers are handy (make extras for friends and family members). A caller can be anonymous and the call only takes a few minutes. When in doubt, let a professional decide—call.
3. Share a small portion of your pocketbook with your nearest humane society or rescue. Consider giving small gifts regularly, such as $5 every month. You’ll feel the love every time you lick the envelope. This therapy helps to relieve some worries about homeless pets in your area.
4. Avoid all fur-trimmed products, no matter how small. Fur farmers in some parts of the world skin animals alive to maintain fur quality, and many of these pathetic animals are actually dogs and cats; their fur is later intentionally mislabeled as other fur to bypass American fur import restrictions. Don’t put dollars in their pockets.
5. Purchase personal care products that are not tested on animals. Read labels. Make it your policy. It might cost a bit more, but you won’t be putting your money in the hands of research laboratories that use dogs, cats and other animals to test products. Many dogs and cats in laboratories are suspected of being stolen from homes and sold to research facilities. If a pet of yours has disappeared under mysterious circumstances, you’ll understand why this industry practice must be stopped.
Help relieve animal suffering consistently as you travel through your busy days, and the essence of loving kindness will shine in your heart. The “u” in humane also means uplift.
Anna Nirva is the founder of Sunbear Squad, Inc., a non-profit organization devoted to encouraging and supporting Good Samaritan behaviors to help companion animals in need. Visit http://www.sunbearsquad.org for tools, knowledge, and inspiration targeted to individuals and groups.