How to Save a Shelter Dog in 6 Steps

8 July, 2015 0 Comments

Adopt, Foster, Donate, Volunteer, Network, Educate

Dogs rescued from shelters seem to have this way of knowing you saved their life, a sixth sense that comes along with an eternal aura of gratefulness. In addition to affordability, many shelter animals have lived in a home with other animals and kids, so they are already house broken and accustomed to home living. Pets are put up for adoption when people lose their homes, go through a divorce, etc. ; most are victims of bad ownership. These animals deserve a loving, stable home, a life that their first human deprived them of. When searching for your next furry companion, check your local animal shelter first. To find a local animal shelter in your area, check out adopt a pet.

Think of fostering as a little vacation for a furry friend. It’s a temporary trip to your house. You won’t have that dog forever, unless you want to of course. Which, I must forewarn, happens often in the rescue world, and even has it’s own catch phrase known as the “foster failure”. The dog will eventually find a home, and you will find peace knowing that you saved two lives. The one you fostered, and the space you made for another one at the shelter. So why not let a furry friend crash on your couch for a bit?

If you can’t foster, you can donate. No amount is too little. Every shelter, rescue group or animal organization is in desperate need. No group will ever say “please, don’t give us any money, we are all set here”. The funding that’s required to run an organization, no matter how small, is always in deficit. The majority of dogs that are found on the streets or come from abused homes or neglect situations need massive amounts of vetting and follow up medication. It’s not free, and the minimal adoption fees certainly don’t cover it. Even a $5 donation will cover bleach and cleaning supplies to help with the kennels. Most organizations have Amazon wish lists set up, so if you feel uncomfortable donating cash, give them supplies!

Shelters are overrun with animals and short staffed. That means short, if any, walks for the animals. It means little to no play time, not so clean kennels and little human interaction. Even 5-10 minutes of play time is great for an animals self esteem. Call your local shelter and see if they need help. You can walk the dogs, help with feeding times, play with the cats, fill water bowls, etc. Dogs and cats thrive on play, the little time you spend with them will make their day!

I am what some of the real rescue people call an “armchair warrior”. I’m not out there rescuing dogs from the streets on a daily basis. I’m not in the everglades with hot dogs luring dogs into my car, I’m not setting traps, I’m not down at MDAS filling out paperwork and leaving with a pregnant momma in my car like my angel friend. I’m behind a computer, posting photos, circulating emails, hashtagging and @ tagging everyone and their mother to try and gain exposure for these dogs. I’m networking, making phone calls, setting up ads on facebooks in local areas, posting on twitter, etc. It’s not any less important, because even if that dog is rescued, it’s going to sit in a shelter with no exposure if someone isn’t out there advertising and advocating for it. At this stage in my life, working full time with a toddler at home, it’s the best I can do, and I do it as often as I can, because I know it WORKS. Take the 5 seconds and share that photo. Tag someone you know who may be interested. Sharing saves, they need the exposure, trust me. These shelters don’t have advertising budgets to go out there and do this, they rely on the compassion of animal lovers like you and I. If you need help gaining exposure for a post or a picture, check out the list of rescue groups I have posted here. Tag these people, set locations up on the pics, whatever you can do to increase the likelihood that someone looking for a new friend will see it.

This may be one of the most important things you can do for the rescue community. There are so many misconceptions when it comes to shelter animals, especially pit bulls. The fact that people still actually buy puppies in pet stores or go to breeders absolutely baffles me, but it’s solely due to ignorance on the buyers behalf. The information is out there, it’s not being circulated. If you really want to help the rescue community, talk to your friends, neighbors and coworkers about shelter truths. We have a ton of guides in the education section of our website. Most people go to breeders or stores because they are looking for a purebred dog. Tell them you will help them find the dog they are looking for, up to 25% of dogs in shelters ARE purebred! If they are hesitate to adopt a pit bull, help shatter the misconceptions that the media has created. Education is one of the greatest forms of power in the rescue community…use it! Again, convincing someone to rescue an animal saves two lives, the one that gets adopted and the space made for the new one.

So if you are one of those people who often feel like they can’t make a difference, because your not in the shelters pulling dogs, or transporting dogs across the country, you are SO wrong. There are plenty of things you CAN do to help. Yes, it starts with rescue. That’s the gold. If you can rescue a dog from the streets, or from a shelter, or even from a bad situation or an abused home, please make that difference. But if you can’t, if you just can’t make that kind of a commitment right now, you can always foster. Let that doggie crash on the couch for a few weeks. If you can’t foster, you can donate. Just a few bucks. If you can’t donate a few bucks, you can network on social media and everyone can educate. EVERYONE CAN DO SOMETHING. So the next time I see the “someone do something about this poor baby” posts on Facebook…know that you are the someone, and there is something you can do. One of these 7 things.

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