Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Our Challenge: Animal Admissions vs. the Crisis of Pet Overpopulation

On any given day, it’s the biggest challenge we face.

But we do see it, each and every day…when someone needs to surrender a pet, and they can not wait.

When it comes to the heartbreaking situation of surrendering a pet to a shelter, everyone wants the same thing: a promise that the animal will receive a second chance. And since residents can live at Animal Friends for as long as it takes to find them a new home, pet owners rest a bit easier when they leave an animal in our care.

So, we at Animals Friends work tirelessly to place our animals into homes. We know that it’s a matter of life and death: every emptied cage empowers us to offer a lifeline to another pet in need.

But the sad reality is: our resources are not infinite. And the crisis of pet overpopulation is so much bigger than any one shelter. More than 20,000 homeless pets are euthanized every single year in this very community. Most of those pets are healthy, lovable animals who simply had nowhere to turn.

That’s why we’re doing everything we possibly can. Nearly 20 years ago, Animal Friends launched a low-cost spay/neuter program to help prevent the births of unwanted pets. Five years ago, we built a bigger facility that would shelter more homeless animals. Three years ago, we put a mobile spay/neuter clinic on the road to double our efforts. Today, every cage and foster home was already filled…when our Humane Officer hit the road to bring in more pets in need of immediate rescue.

And don’t forget kitten season! That’s the time of year when our phones start ringing off the hook, with calls from neighbors who have found entire litters in their yards. It’s simply overwhelming.

Doing everything we can means that Animal Friends is constantly operating at maximum capacity. So, when someone needs to surrender a pet to Animal Friends, so often, we need to ask them to wait.

Of course we dream of a day when there can be a safe place, and ultimately a home, for every abandoned animal. But while we work towards that goal, we…and the pets in our region…need your help.

How you can make an impact:

Adopt one, save two. Adopt a pet from Animal Friends so that another pet in need will have somewhere to go.

Spay or neuter your pet. Even if you find homes for your pet’s litter, there are other pets, waiting in shelters, who won’t be so lucky.

Sponsor a spay. Underwrite a surgery for a pet who otherwise would not be altered. Visit www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org to make your donation.

If you must surrender a pet:

Plan ahead. Pittsburgh has three shelters and many rescue groups who can assist you when you must give up your pet. Not all shelters can guarantee that your pet will be adopted. If you would like to surrender a pet to Animal Friends, understand that your admissions application will be placed on file and processed as we find homes for previously admitted animals.

Consider placing your pet through our Home-to-Home Adoption program, in which you can reach out to potential adopters who can then contact you directly about adopting your pet from your home. Visit the Home-to-Home page of www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org for more information.

If you find a stray pet:

Call your local animal control agency. Animal control agencies will pick up dogs and sometimes cats. But, they are not adoption agencies. Sometimes, good Samaritans find that they are able to safely care for a stray pet while they seek his or her original owner, a new home, or admit the pet to a shelter. Visit the Lost and Found page of www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org for more information and a list of animal control agencies.

If you are caring for feral cats:

We can help. Call our Lost-Cost Spay/Neuter office to learn more about humane Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) practices. You can reach a counselor by calling 1.800.SPAY.PGH.
Pet overpopulation is a problem that is heartbreaking yet preventable. With your support, we can spay and neuter more animals and find homes for those in need. To learn more about donating, adopting or getting involved, visit www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org.

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