Sunday, January 25, 2009

How pet sitters can help homeless animals

It seems like every time an animal needs a home, I hear about it. I try to remind myself that it is not my responsibility to take on all these rescues, but my heart goes out to each and every pet that faces rehoming. In this economic environment, we hear of too many pets facing abandonment. 

Someone called me a few weeks ago to tell me about some dogs needing homes. She said, "If they don't find a home by the 19th, something awful will happen." Once again, I said to myself "that's not my deadline, and I refuse to be guilted into taking the dogs." But I can help spread the word. 

As pet sitters, many of us know clients who have recently lost a pet to illness or old age. I have placed several animals in new homes this way. As an added bonus of course, I re-acquire a pet sitting client. 

Spread the word
I have long lists of fellow pet sitters, horse people, dog lovers, and clients that I can tell about homeless animals. I hate to pester them, but sometimes an email blast actually gets results. I also post the animals' story on my facebook page, email discussion groups, and Zootoo in a journal entry. 

Yes, I adopt them
Occasionally I have fallen prey to a sad story, and I'm never sorry. My neighbor died, and the family was going to euthanize the dog. I took her sight-unseen and Sandy lived with me for over four years before dying this past fall at 18 years of age. My dachshund, Desi, came to me when  a client passed away. My two cats, Sterling and Whisper (yawning in her photo), were adopted by a friend from the Bonita shelter. Her dogs kept trying to kill them, so they came to live with me while I found them a home. They found a home all right! I've had them about 7 years now.  

As a volunteer for Lab rescue, I adopted Cody (see photo), an un-Labrador, from the Escondido Humane Society. He moped at adoption events and refused to even look at prospective adopters. I caved in and kept him. I loved him to pieces; he was a wonderful, sweet old dog.

Your clients' wills 
Some of my clients have asked me to be responsible for their pets if something happens to them. I am in the will of horse owners, cat owners and dog owners. I don't always promise to keep the pet, but I do promise to find it a good home. One owner provided a fund to build a cat kennel on my property to house her elderly cats. Thankfully, she has outlived both of them. 

Advice for owners
What do I tell people that can't keep their pets? 
• I tell them which shelters are most likely to keep the pet rather than euthanize it.
• I tell them to contact no-kill shelters NOW and get on the waiting list
• Get dogs vaccinated against kennel cough at least a week before giving them up to a shelter, so the vaccine has time to work
• Be sure to visit the animal's new home so you are assured the pet won't be sold to a research facility, or a horse for slaughter
• Check up on the animal after placing it
• If your pet has bitten someone, it won't be considered adoptable. Don't blame others for saying no; we can't save them all
• There is no such thing as "a home in the country where he can run"

We can only do our best. In the past week I have heard about 20 malamutes from a breeder, 32 foals in South Dakota, a 2 year old quarter horse (gorgeous), 2 doxie mixes in San Diego, and an abandoned cat in Temecula. Sigh... let's just count our victories.  

About that cat (photo at right) in Temecula...


Sabrina the Pet Sitter Pro! said...

If there's ANY good time for a vaccine, it certainly isn't before taking a trip to the shelter. Vaccines put a huge strain on the immune system, as does stress, which is in no short supply at any given shelter. This doesn't even take into account that the kennel cough vaccine is largely ineffective.

Terry Albert said...

I agree, that's why I said to do it a week before you take the dog to the shelter. And there are so many strains of kennel cough, the vaccine doesn't protect against all of them, but at least it might help. I was trying to give the dog an edge. If he has to go to a shelter, at least he'll have a better chance of staying healthy. Thanks for your comment.