Please do not let them stop a loving heart
Estimated number of cats and dogs entering shelters each year:
6-8 million (HSUS estimate)
Estimated number of cats and dogs euthanized by shelters each year:
3-4 million (HSUS estimate)
Estimated number of cats and dogs adopted from shelters each year:
3-4 million (HSUS estimate)
Estimated number of cats and dogs reclaimed by owners from shelters each year:
30 percent of dogs and 2-5 percent of cats entering shelters (HSUS estimate)
Estimated number of animal shelters in the United States:
3,500 (HSUS estimate)
Estimated percent of dogs in shelters who are purebred:
25 percent (HSUS estimate)
Unless otherwise indicated, statistics provided by The National Council on Pet Population, Study and Policy.
This is what I do after work. I come home, pick up the poopoo in the doggy litter box and clean any general stinkiness. I check my email and begin serially snuggling chihuahuas (purebed and otherwise) in my sports bra. I get on Facebook, and I begin to share dogs in danger of being euthanized. Every time a dog in urgent need of rescue pops up on my newsfeed, I share to a page I created just for that purpose: Maya Sharepage North. I did this so I would not overwhelm people and also so that people who wanted to look could go straight there.
I had always been overwhelmed by the numbers. It was unimaginable; it was a holocaust for animals on a scale I could not imagine. Every year,
three to four million loving, thinking, feeling little beings are killed for the sin of only having been born, the sin of being unwanted. And this was just in a year. In my granddaughter’s lifetime of almost 10 years, that would be 30 to 40 million little beings put to death, and not always humanely, either. This, of course, does not count the animals dumped on the streets to starve or be hit by cars, taken out back and shot, dropped off of bridges tied up in sacks, or otherwise disposed of like so much trash.
As infinitely anguishing as these statistics have always been for me, it was not a patch on how hard it has become now that those little beings have individual faces. Every dog I share has a picture, and those eyes speak volumes. They speak of sadness and confusion, of memories – sometimes of pain and abuse but other times of love suddenly gone, of neglect and hunger and rejection, but they also speak of hope. Will you see me? Will this be the day that someone comes and says “Oh, look, you are my doggy! You are my kitty! Let’s go home, shall we?” It may be the hope that hurts the most. I tell, my dears, that sometimes I am crying so hard that I cannot see the keys. But still, I share.
Why? Because someone might see them and help in ways I can’t. That might be the day they’re ready to adopt. Or they’ll have room for one more foster. Or they have a little extra cash and can donate. Or they just share again, so that perhaps someone else will see them and do just that.
Two of my dogs did not come from shelters. I cannot regret them; they are two of the great creature loves of my life. But my third, Papi, he came from a high-kill shelter in Los Angeles. When I got him, he was emaciated and frightened, so lost and confused. At the rescue group, he was the one who pressed into my body so hard it was as if he was trying to melt in. After all, if he became a literal part of my body, I would have to take him with me, right?
As it turns out, he was right. I don’t think I stopped holding him for hours. Now filled out and sassy, he’s part of my rotating crew of snuggle puppies,
although how he gets himself in the sports bra entirely, I do not really know since he’s as big as the other two put together. He’s the one I hold most when I am sharing, sometimes soaking his fur with tears, sometimes cradling his little head and pressing kisses as I promise that he will never, ever, ever go through any of that again. He is safe now. He is home.
But right this minute, there are homeless pets who are not safe. They are just as gorgeous, just as loving, just as magical as my Papi. They’re easy to find – they are as near as your local shelter. They are online and with help, they can come to you. They are not merely numbers. They are Honey and Dizzy and Mac and Buzz and Peaches and they all have faces and hearts and spirits that yearn for love and family just like most of us do. When I post them, I often say “please do not let them stop my loving heart,” because that they will do, simply because there is no room and there are not enough homes. And after each one, I add this:
Please — adopt, foster, spay, neuter, donate, share!!!
- Adopt, because even though I do not regret my dogs who came from breeders, each of my breeder dogs is a dog in a shelter I did not save.
- Foster, because it buys them time to find a forever home. Often there are funds to help with that.
- Spay/neuter, because this is the true solution to this horrific situation. There are too many puppies and kittens being born, and of the dogs I see in desperate need of rescue, perhaps 70 percent of them are pit bulls and pit mixes.
- Donate, so that a rescue group can afford to pull these animals out of the shelters, often just a hairsbreadth from that final moment.
- And if you cannot do any of that, share, because the more people who share, the better chance that the person destined to be their savior will see them.
If all of us just did what we could, plus did everything possible to ensure that all pets are spayed or neutered, then this holocaust would finally be over. The only animals available would come from skilled and ethical breeders who only produced litters that would improve the breed and went only to loving homes. Perhaps if pets were rare and intimidatingly expensive, they would be treated with the love and care they deserve.
Until then, because these loving, trusting little beings are the responsibility of all of us, the knowledge of this ongoing horror is a burden we must face, bear and strive to overcome — and not give up until all homeless pets are safe and loved.
This is dedicated to all the people who adopt, foster, spay/neuter, donate, volunteer and share! It’s so easy to do. If you are on Facebook, just type in animal rescue and start liking their pages. Soon enough you will see the feeds and if nothing else, please share. You just may turn out to be the hero who saves a life!