March 25, 2022
It took a long time after we lost Bella to work through our stages of grief. I always liked dogs but enjoyed playing with other’s puppies more than the responsibility of raising one myself. Melissa always had dogs and cats in the house growing up, and usually in multiples. She has been testing the water for the last year wondering when we (I) might be ready for a puppy. Melissa has combed the rescue sites and pound notices looking for the “right” dog. Dogs have been scarce during the pandemic as everyone seemed to be wanting a companion to replace their office mates. Several weeks ago, she found what she thought might be the dog for us. We plan to pick up the 8-week-old puppy this evening.
When I went online, I found that animal welfare advocates are warning scarce adoptable pets in some US states corresponds with a break in the supply chain, and that other shelters continue to face floods of stray animals. While northern states have seen a surge in pet adoptions that have cleared some shelters, southern states face the same annual influx of new animals. Matthew Bershadker, CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) told NPR that on average about 45,000 southern animals are transported north each year to states with emptier shelters. The northern carpetbaggers after the Civil War have been switched to the southern flea-baggers of the pandemic.
The pandemic has led to varying domestic travel restrictions and hindered the transportation networks to move animals to more scarce population shelters. There has been a decline in donations to shelters as millions of Americans file for unemployment and emptied shelters do not have the resources to obtain more animals. Jean Shafiroff, an ambassador for the American Humane Society, said she’s happy some shelters have been cleared but she is concerned that once social distancing guidelines are scaled back some will decide to return their pets. She also worries reports of scarce shelter animals could deter people from adopting animals. “To say that there is a shortage of adoptable dogs and cats when between one and two million are euthanized every year makes no sense,” Shafiroff said. “A lot of dogs have been adopted now but not that many. It does not appear that we’ll ever have a shortage.” Like other supply chain issues, it is just a matter of getting adoptable pets to available owners.
THOUGHTS: While many consider monetary donations to a local pet rescue shelter, there are other ways to help. Donating your time is one of the most impactful, as many shelters need help cleaning, caring for the animals, and keeping the facility in good condition. If you have a talent or hobby like photography or videography you may help by highlighting one of the available pets. Gently used items from previous pets can be donated to provide extra supplies. General cleaning supplies are always in need (especially newspapers!). Always check with your local shelter for their donation needs and how you can best use your time and talents. Follow the science. Do the work. Change is coming and it starts with you.