The ASPCA reports that there are approximately 7.6 million animals that enter shelters nationwide each year. Of those 7.6 million, 3.9 million are dogs – and of those 3.9 million, an estimated 1.2 million were euthanized. Over a million dogs, and that’s just in shelters. That number accounts for the United States alone, and doesn’t take into account the amount of dogs euthanized by their owners or inhumanely killed due to cruelty or neglect.
If you wonder why there are so many animal rights advocates who are against breeding (even responsible breeding) and working diligently to reduce the pet population by finding homes for animals waiting in shelters, those numbers should give a clearer perpective.
In more recent years, adoption numbers have been on the rise — which is fantastic news! However, with the popularity of the Internet and websites for online sales like Craigslist, the number of breeders and puppy mills has also risen. Compared to data compiled in 1997 showing 4.3 million animals in shelters, the number of animals in shelters has nearly doubled in the past 20 years. Considering that the number of shelters has also risen from the 5,042 surveyed in 1997 to an estimated 13,600 today, there has been very little dent in pet overpopulation.
Although the Internet has done some damage to these statistics, it has also provided invaluable outlets for rescue organizations to work on finding homes for this overabundance of homeless animals. BarkPost has spoken with some of these rescues to gain insight on how to be the most efficient in helping these animals find homes.
1. Read the entire post, top to bottom.
Most rescues and people posting animals that need new homes spend a lot of time including all pertinent information to ensure they go to the best place possible. Sometimes it’s a lot of information to read, but skimming and/or contacting to find out information that is already offered is wasting resources of the people trying to find them homes. (Of course, if there’s a question that you have that isn’t posted, ask away!)
Yes, that picture is adorable, but if you have other animals and the dog looking for a new home doesn’t get along with other dogs (or cats, children, etc.), then it means that this is for their safety as well as yours. Ignoring something like that could be detrimental to all parties involved, and we want to save these animals, not put them in a situation that they aren’t capable of handling.
We know you want to help, but again, rescues are not going to send the dog to a home that isn’t suitable for their needs and it’s wasting time while they’re searching for viable adoption candidates.
Understanding social media is key when using platforms like Facebook in animal rescue and rehoming. There is no way for the original poster to see where the post is being shared, therefore they cannot follow up when people who can potentially help post on a share and not the original.
If you have reposted and get a tip or someone wanting to adopt on your post, please follow up and have them contact the responsible parties directly if they fit the qualifications. Also, remembering to change those private post settings to public reaches even more people so that everyone can see and share.
Commenting on Gonzo Dog’s post will not notify the original poster, in this case Christine Sandberg.
While prayers and shares are always appreciated, it takes a lot of time to scour through all those comments. Just like comments asking for information that has already been posted or offering to adopt when you don’t fit the qualifications, these comments waste time and resources. If you are outside of the area (or country!) of where the dog is located and able to be adopted out, commenting that you would take them but are too far away adds to the clutter.
This also goes for Internet “heroes” who say they will adopt or pledge money and then don’t follow through. Rescuers count on donations to help pay for the medical care, transport, and rescue of animals, so when someone says they will donate, that money is counted on. It’s a major problem when someone says they will foster/adopt in order for a rescue to pull an animal, and then backs out once the animal has been pulled. That dog or cat no longer has a place to go and it takes a huge amount of work for rescues to find a place for them — or else they end up back at the shelter.
We all want to save as many animals as we can, but without the resources to do so, it’s just not possible. Saying you will help for the sake of “Internet approval” or “likes” is actually taking away from people actively working to save a dog.
This is a common saying in rescue, and a frequent problem. While rescue can be incredibly rewarding work, it can also be very heartbreaking. Not every animal is able to be saved, and not every dog with severe medical or behavioral problems will make it. You may very well adopt a dog who is terrified of humans and it takes them a long time to warm up. You may also get a dog with severe emotional problems that needs training and experience that you aren’t able to provide. This is in no way a reflection on you, and it cannot be taken personally.
Rescue is some of the hardest work out there, both mentally, physically, and emotionally. Anyone involved in animal rescue needs to understand this, and to know that everything being done is for the sake of the animal and not to make themselves feel better. This also goes for people who see an animal getting a lot of attention on social media and using it to boost their own following (yes, it happens). Animal rescue is not about the person. It’s about the animal… period.
6. Pick one and follow through to the end.
With so many animals being posted on social media these days, it’s common for people to simply repost and wait for someone else to step up. Unfortunately, this is the mentality of a lot of “cross–posters,” and if everyone is waiting for the next person to do something then no one is stepping up.
Instead of simply reposting, choose one or two animals nearby that you are able to help with posting locally and networking fosters, donations, transport, and medical care. Imagine what we could get accomplished if every person focused on finding animals a home, one at a time? Of course, it’s understandable that not everyone is able to put the time and effort that it takes into finding animals homes, but the more people we can get actively involved, the better chance we have at fighting this crisis.
7. Contact your local rescues and find out how to help.
Let’s get out from behind those keyboards! The best way to help animals get adopted is to get involved. Volunteer, donate, foster… these are the things that rescues need. The lack of foster homes is overwhelming, and most rescues are foster based. They don’t have shelters to house these dogs, so without fosters there can be no rescue.
This does not mean tagging rescues on posts, because chances are they already know about it and are doing what they can if they have the resources to help. Being tagged repeatedly adds to the clutter that makes it hard for rescues to sort out who can help and where they can contribute. Most of these rescues are being contacted personally by vet partners or people who are in direct contact with animals that need to be helped, so being tagged thousands of times on the Internet is redundant and overwhelming.
8. Educate, educate, educate!
The more we can spread the word about the importance of spaying/neutering, reporting animal cruelty, and adopting instead of shopping, the more you can contribute to helping these animals. Boycott buying from pet stores or the Internet where the animals most likely come from puppy mills. Some cities are now requiring pet stores to only “sell” rescue animals, which is fantastic!
(By the way, there is no actual “sale” in rescue. Rescue organizations rarely make a profit, if ever. Adoption fees go towards medical care, making sure the owners are responsible and can afford a pet, and towards saving the next animal in need.)
If someone is looking for a certain type of dog, there are many breed-specific rescues out there who have just what you want. However, mixed breeds are generally known for having longer life spans and less health problems, so take that into consideration. The more we can spread the word that there are millions of loving animals already out there just waiting to be taken home, the better chance we have at reducing the number of unwanted pets in shelters that are being put down.
There is one last thing to consider, and that is that finding an animal doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t have an owner who is looking for it. If you find a pet, please post on lost and found sites and take it to the nearest vet or shelter to have it scanned for a microchip. (And if you have lost a pet, please contact lost/found sites, post flyers, and contact your local shelters and vets as well.) Let them try to find the owner before you decide to keep it.
If you bring the animal in and they cannot find the owner, they will often let you take it back if you want it. But keeping an animal you find without trying to find the owner first could mean breaking the heart of someone who is desperately trying to find their beloved companion. If they can be reunited with their owner and you still want a pet, check your local shelter and see what they have. We’re sure you’ll find someone to love!
Thank you to everyone out there who is working to save all of the animals in need (especially the rescue organizations), and keep up the good work! It takes a village, but if we all work together in the most efficient way possible, we can do this!