-Written by Erik Sargent
As the pet population continues on a constant rise, so too does the need to find the proper solutions for handling these animals and providing them not only with the appropriate care and treatment, but also finding them happy, forever homes.
All across the globe – from big cities down to small communities – are working to find the answers for dealing with homeless animals, mainly to prevent them from suffering neglect and potential death. It’s a complex issue, filled with hurdles like finding resources, having the proper space to house an animal, and having the proper staffing to provide support.
It’s up to the hardworking individuals at animal shelters and rescues to not only come up with the solutions for these animals, but to continue doing so each and every day with such constant turnover.
“We’re an open admission shelter, which means that we are completely open to the public and that all animals are welcome here from our service area,” said Wendy Welch, communications director for the Human Society of Huron Valley, located in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Thanks to the support we have in the community, we are able to treat many animals that come through our doors, and save the mass majority of them. We have about a 97 percent save rate, and an incredibly high adoption rate as well.”
The facilities at Huron Valley feature a full-service veterinary clinic that is open to the public, and they are able to provide treatment to most animals that come through their doors.
“We try to keep rates low [at the veterinary clinic], because our ultimate goal is to keep animals in homes,” Welch said. “Our vet staff takes a look at them and can treat them for different things. If there is something beyond the scope of what we are able to do here, we have partners in the community that can help as well. We also have behavior specialists that can help with differing conditions animals may have.”
Other facilities like the Heartland Animal Shelter, located in Northbrook, Ill., focus their efforts in providing safety for animals who are in danger, particularly ones who are on the streets and facing euthanasia.
“We get animals from all different situations,” said Stephanie Mueller-Simpson, executive director for Heartland Animal Shelter. “We will take owner surrenders sometimes, but mostly, we try to focus on animals that are in danger. Many of our cats and dogs come straight off the streets, and most of our dogs and cats come from municipal shelters where they are on the euthanasia list because there just isn’t room for them.”
Finding the resources
With organizations like these, money and resources can often be tight, and without the proper backing, they aren’t able to treat as many animals.
“One major challenge for us is the nature of being a no-kill, nonprofit means that we are a private organization, so we run entirely on donations,” Mueller-Simpson said. “So, if we don’t have particular items donated or money donated, we just can’t provide. That’s always an on-going challenge.”
It’s a difficult road relying on donations, and in order for a place like Heartland to operate, they need the money from any source possible and from people who care as much about animals as they do.
Another aspect that allows animal shelters and rescues to operate on a day-to-day basis is from volunteers in the communities they operate. Whether it’s with something simple like hosting community events or participating in the various volunteer programs these shelters offer, it provides a great service to the organizations trying to operate at a high level.
“We are fortunate to have many foster parents, so in addition to the space we have at our facilities, we have foster parents in the community who are able to take in the animals,” Welch said. “Whether it’s a medical emergency or a behavioral problem where the animal needs one-on-one attention, they are taken care of.”
Help from those in the community
The impact of donations and volunteer work are hard to measure as shelters house hundreds of animals each year, and it’s people in the community who make the difference.
For the international moving company TWO MEN AND A TRUCK, select franchise locations do their part to make a difference with their Movers for Mutts campaign. Movers for Mutts was a program developed by the company, and franchises who elect to run this during the fall months use their moving services and equipment to help transport food, toys, and other essential care items collected in the community for local shelters or rescues that need it most.
It’s a good way for the company to not only give back in the communities they operate, but also to work toward saving or improving the lives of as many animals as they can.
“It’s very important to us to give back with efforts like Movers for Mutts, because we have been in this community for a long time, and the community has been good to us,” said Eric St. Pierre, co-franchisee at the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Colorado Springs, Colo. location. “It’s the least we can do. We want the community to know how much we appreciate them, and we want to help out animals, too.”
Not only does the charitable work go toward a great cause in the community, it also gives the franchise team members a break from the everyday grind and a chance to make a difference.
“We order the materials, make up donation boxes, and get in contact with local shelters who need the help,” St. Pierre said. “I think it gives our team members something different to focus on and takes away from the monotony of work. Our workers are extremely passionate about it.”
Join the cause
“There are so many ways to help,” Welch said. “We have many volunteer opportunities from youth volunteers to adults, who can do anything from laundry and administrative assistance to dog walking and cat comforting – these are the most popular ones. Even more skilled things – we have them help out with our dog play groups and dog pack walks, and many other things.”
Outside assistance to these types of organizations is crucial, and gives people a chance to help better protect the lives of these animals and take stress off of the organizations working to save them.
Whether you’re working with one tasks mentioned above, working to become a foster parent, donating your time with their volunteer activities, or just handing over a cash donation – everything helps.
“Just spreading the word is such a major thing,” said Mueller-Simpson. “There will always be issues with pet stores and breeders, and there will always be an overpopulation of animals. Spreading the word about why adoption is important can make a big difference.”
To learn more about the work being done at both of these facilities, visit the Heartland Animal Shelter website and Facebook page here and here, and the Human Society of Huron Valley website and Facebook here and here.