Imagine the life of a stray dog, hungry for long periods of time in between when the trash cans are full and when the garbage truck rolls down the street, taking away the only available food. Imagine the day life changes and a person comes, the day the dog thinks they’re finally going to be warm and full, only to be thrown in the back of a cold, bumpy truck and ending up in a loud, frightening and overwhelming pound.
It’s terrifying. Such new conditions are stressful for a dog whose norm has always been living on a street or in a warm home with a family. When dogs are in a pound, they’re not themselves. A calm dog might turn aggressive, an excited one anxious. These dogs end up being put down because they’re deemed unadoptable if they’re not immediately the “model dog” that will fit in with every family.
“Shelters are full of amazing pets, but they have no idea why they are there and the noises and smells can cause further behavior issues. These animals can be totally different when away from the shelter, other animals, and in a loving home. Rescue groups or humane agencies may take possession of these animals, clear the medical issues, and adopt the animals into homes. These may require extra time, patience, and training to rehabilitate into loving pets,” Jana Cassidy, interim executive director of the Delaware County Humane Society, said.
One such rescue group is Austin Pets Alive!, an Austin-based rescue group that focuses on saving animals from euthanasia. Not only does the group save animals in their home city, they also helped out animals after Hurricane Harvey with their sister group, Houston Pets Alive, by setting up temporary shelters throughout Houston to make sure every displaced pet got back home.
Another group that helps get animals off the streets and into homes is the Delaware County Humane Society which shelters surrendered dogs and cats. The Humane Society only euthanizes at owner request if the animal’s quality of life is agreed to be too low. It is run by volunteers and all animals are available for adoption.
“Prospective adopters must complete an adoption contract, which specifically indicates that the animal must be returned to HSDC if the adopter can no longer care for it or no longer wants the animal because it’s currently estimated that every person would need to own seven animals for there to be no homeless, unwanted animals in the United States. For a family of 4, that is 28 animals! Please do your part - have your pets spayed and neutered,” Cassidy said.
While the Humane Society does have its benefits, it also has negatives. For example, after the CEO, Wayne Pacelle, supported NFL player Michael Vick following his allegations of killing dogs as part of a dog fighting ring, maybe the Humane Society isn’t the best choice for everyone. In that case, there’s the CHA Animal Shelter, which just like the Humane Society, wants to give every animal a chance to get a loving home. “When adopting from a shelter, you are preventing a pet from living on the street. It doesn’t matter if it is a cat or a dog, when you adopt from CHA you are giving a loving animal a happy home and that is what our shelter is all about,” Levi Webster, the Volunteer and Event Coordinator for the CHA Animal Shelter, said.
With so many shelters, people might forget that animals at pet stores need homes as much as the ones at animal shelters. With this comes a common stipulation: how can one buy a pet without supporting puppy mills? There’s no good answer to that, but for some peace of mind, remember that animal rescue groups do all they can to shut down puppy mills and save those dogs.
“My family got our first dog from a pet store because we were there, looking at dogs, and we ended up buying my dog. We got our other dog because the first one was lonely,” senior Wing Phung said.
One thing everybody can agree on is that all animals, dogs and cats, large and small, old and young, shouldn’t suffer. If you want to help, donate to a local animal shelter, volunteer, or even follow social media accounts like Instagram’s @susiesseniordogs, which features dogs all across the nation that need homes.