The gifts have been opened, family and friends have gone home and Christmas is already being relegated to a pleasant memory. With 2011 slowly winding down, it’s time when many people are thinking ahead to the New Year and trying desperately to come up with some kind of resolution that is worthwhile and achievable.
If that describes you, here are a handful of last minute resolutions that are definitely worthwhile and within the reach of anyone who is serious about making a positive difference in their life in the coming months.
Resolve to donate: It goes without saying that most shelters and rescues operate month-to-month on limited resources. Nearly all depend on the generosity of local people and businesses to continue providing for the abandoned and abused animals in that community. Yet, the need continues to outpace the available resources. However, if every household in the community were to donate the equivalent of one hour’s pay per month to a local shelter or rescue, the money to provide proper care, sustenance and a safe haven would no longer be an issue. And, if shelter and rescue personnel no longer had to devote an inordinate amount of time raising funds to cover the next month’s bills, they could spend more time caring for the animals and educating the public on how to best address the problems of irresponsible ownership and pet over-population. A win-win for everyone, especially the animals. Shelters also have a long list of physical items they need on a regular basis that can be donated. Blankets, towels, cleaning supplies are always in need, as well as toys, tools, pet food and laundry soap.
Resolve to foster a homeless animal: As Mary and Joseph discovered in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, there was “no room at the inn.” This holds true for animal shelters as well. There is seldom room at the shelter for the endless stream of animals that arrive at their door. When adoptions and fostering do not keep pace with new arrivals, the only option is to euthanize those animals who’ve outstayed their welcome. Becoming a foster home for your favorite shelter or rescue organization means one thing: another precious life is being saved from extermination. That is making a difference on a personal level.
Resolve to adopt your next family pet: For those who are considering adding a family pet, resolve to ignore pet stores that sell puppy-mill dogs. Also, resolve to ignore backyard breeders and find your pet at a local shelter. If you need help in finding an animal that is looking for a new home, go to www.petfinder.com and type in your zip code and you’ll get a listing of all the rescues and shelters in your area and the animals they have available. Also, when you do decide on a dog or cat as a new family member, please make sure to have it spayed or neutered at the earliest opportunity so that you do not become a part of the pet over-population problem.
Resolve to volunteer at your local shelter: Nearly every shelter or rescue organization could not survive without a core group of dedicated volunteers, and there are never enough of those. Walking the dogs, doing laundry, doing maintenance and repairs or helping with fund-raising events are just a few of the many ways that volunteers help keep shelters and rescues operating on limited income. Basically, if you are willing to help, a few hours a week or a few hours a month, your help will be welcomed.
Resolve to advocate on behalf of abandoned and abused animals: There are many who do not have the time or the money or are limited in other ways, so that the above resolutions are not possible. Yet, you can still make an important difference.
2012 promises to be a breakthrough year in the war on pet over-population, puppy mills and backyard breeders. Yet, nothing will be accomplished without the help of individuals who are committed to helping solve the problem. Their help will come in a myriad of ways. For example,
Do you know someone who is interested in adding a family pet? Don’t let them go anywhere except to the local shelter for that animal. Puppy-mills and backyard breeders are only in it for the money at the expense of the animals. Don’t encourage them. Adopt from a local shelter. Adoption is the only sensible option.
Do you see a stray animal or one that’s tethered for hours on end? Has someone in your neighborhood moved out and left an animal behind? Do something about it; even it is only calling your local Animal Control department. Don’t ignore the suffering that may be going on around you .
Is your community considering an ordinance to ban specific breeds or limit pet ownership? Attend the meetings or somehow let your municipal representatives know that bans and limits only ensure more animals will die in the euthanasia room. The focus should be on responsible and accountable pet ownership.
Finally, and at the very least, resolve to give your pets the very best care and the most genuine affection that you are capable of. They grace our lives for only a short time and ask very little of us in return. Humans brought them into our world to be our friends, helpers and companions. We owe them our compassion, our concern, our love and our voices. They count on us to speak up and speak out on their behalf, to ensure their lives are lived with the same dignity and respect that all life deserves.
From Sandy and myself, along with our furry family of Pudg, Baxter, Lily, Tanner, Stubby, Racer, Riko and Ike, we wish you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year!