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Speaking Up for Homeless Animals

Don't underestimate the power of one. Find constructive outlets for your concern for homeless animals -- such as writing a guest guest editorial or letter for your local paper. Below is one example, which appeared recently in an Ocean City, Maryland newspaper.

Dear Editor,

As visitors and residents get ready to return to school and work, local animal shelters are trying to cope with the influx of dogs and cats from people who viewed pet ownership as temporary instead of a serious commitment.

More than 5 million pets lose their lives each year in the United States due to lack of a home, according to the American Humane Association, and thousands die in our local shelters. Here are practical ways that each of us can make a difference and reduce the tragedy of homeless companion animals literally dying from lack of homes.

* Neuter and spay your pets. This safe, simple, one-time surgery can be done animals of nearly any age, including as young as 10 weeks. The procedure does not change a pet's personality or cause weight gain. In fact, national studies have proven that neutering significantly improves long-term health by eliminating the risk of several common and costly-to-treat cancers and other diseases -- as well as reduces aggressive tendencies and territorial marking. It's a win-win situation. And remember, every litter of pups and kittens born means fewer homes and more euthanasia (humane killing) for abandoned animals who are so in need of responsible homes.

* Keep pets for life. Pets are not gifts or playthings. It is tragic how many young dogs are given up once the novelty wears off and the pups have grown larger and more active.

* Solve problems instead of giving up a pet. Allergies? Behavior problems? Moving? Most "pet problems" are really "owner management problems" and practical solutions abound in books and free webpages, such as www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/dog_tips.html

* Don't get a pet until everyone in the household is completely ready. Critically important: choose the right pet for your lifestyle and energy level. Have kids or lots of guests? Don't have time to walk and play with a high-energy breed several times a day? Be realistic. Giving up a pet is a bad lesson to teach children.

* Train your pet using positive reinforcement. Dogs are not born knowing how to behave like Lassie. Furthermore, dog bite cases typically involve dogs who were not raised or treated properly, who were allowed to roam outside and/or were left alone with young children. To help bite-proof your dog, socialize and train him, walk on leash outside, supervise dogs left in the yard (since a lonely or frustrated dog will try to escape), never chain up a dog (chaining is proven to increase aggressive behavior), and never leave dogs and young children alone together.

* Teach dogs and children how to safely interact with each other, and teach all household members and guests to treat pets kindly. Well cared for pets are better, more reliable companions.

* Do not let pets roam, which leads to them getting hit by cars, lost, stolen, injured by other animals and troubled people, and winding up at shelters.

* Help animals at your local humane shelter or animal welfare society by volunteering a few hours a month or making donations.

* Adopt your pet from a local shelter or animal welfare group. You'll find wonderful animals waiting for caring homes. If you want a purebreed, up to 30 percent of animals in many shelters are purebred. If you choose to buy a purebreed, avoid puppy mill pet shops and choose an ethical breeder who owns the mother dog, can provide generations of pedigree, shows their dogs in dog shows, and breeds only the best to the best to improve the breed and ensure healthy genetics.

We each have the ability to make a real difference.


For more Dog Tips about pet care, adoption and the work PAW does, visit our website at:

Partnership for Animal Welfare, Inc.
P.O. Box 1074, Greenbelt, MD 20768

Last Updated: April 26, 2018 (LET) PawSupport