“I looked at all the unfortunate, homeless, neglected animals…the cast-offs of human society. I saw in their eyes, love and hope, fear and dread, sadness and betrayal. And I said, “God, this is terrible. Why don’t You do something? God was quiet for a moment, and then spoke softly, “I have done something. I created you.” –Jim Willis
In l996 Capital Humane Society in Lincoln, Nebraska, designed a campaign to acknowledge and promote the important role of shelters and other animal welfare organizations and to increase public awareness of the needy dogs found in every community. National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week now proclaims the message: YOUR LOCAL SHELTER OR RESCUE GROUP NEEDS YOU. These groups help untold numbers of animals, usually with limited resources and very little recognition. You don’t have to be an animal expert to help; everyone has skills and talents that can be utilized; you just need the desire to lend a helping hand. If you don’t know your local group, there is no better time to get acquainted. Do a little research to check them out and if you feel comfortable with them, call and find out how you can help support the work they do for the animals in your community.
- Give monetary donations. Most groups are struggling financially, so every penny counts. It’s great to send a check to the national animal welfare organizations, but don’t forget the legitimate, hardworking groups in your own back yard.
- Spread the word. Does your community really appreciate the local shelter’s dedication to needy animals? Talk to your family, co-workers and neighbors about the importance of supporting local groups. Many people don’t realize that shelters not only take in homeless animals, but often rescue injured, abused or neglected critters. Stay alert to what is going on in your own neighborhood, and if you suspect abuse or neglect, document your suspicions and report them.
- Involve your family, friends, and co-workers. Designate a day to donate spare change or tips for the benefit of the shelter. Make it an event, and remind everyone of the important work the shelter does. Suggest donations rather than personal gifts for holidays and birthdays. Have a jar on the counter at home where the kids (and adults!) can drop small change. Then when a sizable amount is collected, make a family trip to the shelter.
- Do your part. Spaying or neutering your pet is one important thing you can do to reduce the number of homeless pets in your area. Our shelters are already overcrowded with unwanted pets, and spaying or neutering will reduce the number of homeless pets. If you have a neighbor or friend who has an intact animal, perhaps you can influence them….if cost is an issue, maybe offering to pay a portion of the bill would be an incentive. Learn about possible programs that offer affordable programs.
- Two simple words. The words, THANK YOU, are powerful, and will encourage overworked, underpaid, and often discouraged shelter workers. Send a letter, card, or e-mail to your local group, and let them know you care.
In the ideal world, there would be none left to rescue, none left to buy, none left to suffer, none left to die, none to be beaten, none to be kicked….all would be loved. Until then it is up to you and me to help just one, or two, or three…until they’re all free…one dog at a time.