Adopting a pet
Adopting a pet from an animal shelter or rescue organization is an act of generosity and kindness. Before that pet reaches a new owner's open arms, it has been through a litany of health checks and behavioral tests. Trained professionals have evaluated the pet's ability to interact in a positive manner with other animals and children. Assessments are made of how it reacts to being fed and touched. All of these tests seek to determine how plausible it is that this animal will be able to be adopted; this is work is done to ensure the safety of the animal and its potential owners. A successful pet adoption depends on matching the pet's needs and the new owner's ability to provide care.
So what does someone do if they find a pet before it has reached the shelter? These are the dogs, cats and other animals that are turned loose on the streets by frustrated or hopeless owners. One story on petfinder.org said two Basset Hounds were found wandering the streets with ID tags removed and a note attached. The note read, "Due to foreclosure on our home we can no longer care for these dogs. Please love them as much as we did."
Almost Certain Euthanasia
The person who found these dogs took them to a local rescue organization where they are now happy, healthy and waiting to be "re-homed" - Industry speak for finding a home for a pet. It is cruel to leave an animal on the street to fend for its self but with so many animals being euthanized every year, calling animal control will almost always mean certain death. The Humane Society estimates that six to eight million pets are abandoned every year; some of them are fortunate enough to find new homes but most end up being humanely euthanized. A simple act of kindness; picking up an animal and finding a "no kill" shelter or rescue organization may mean the difference between life and death.
Rescue a Pet
The Center for Disease Control estimates that there are 800,000 dog bites annually that are serious enough to require medical attention. Injury cause by cats and other animals is largely undocumented. Approaching a homeless animal requires careful consideration. Not all of them are lucky enough to come with notes attached to thier collars.
1. Look for signs of illness before approaching the animal. Is it walking normally? Does it seem alert? If the animal appears sick in any way, approach with extreme caution. Whatever illness it has could be dangerous to you or other pets. A sick animal will also be more defensive and more likely to attack as a self defense. If the animal is beyond your capabilities, leave it there. Make note of its location and call a no kill shelter or a rescue organization.
2. Look for signs of abuse. Is the animal injured in any way? The injuries might not be fresh, but evidence of past broken bones, torn ears or cigarette burns indicates abuse. The animal may be very frightened of humans and react violently to even the best of intentions.
3. Let the animal come to you. Call to the animal. Does it come willingly? If not, kneel down to make yourself less intimidating. It will take time if the animal to approach you if it has been abused.
4. Get it checked by a vet. Do this before allowing it near children or other pets. It is essential that no one else is endangered by a sick or abused animal.
5. Honestly assess your ability to care for the animal. If you don't have adequate time, money or space to give this animal a successful home, find a rescue organization. A rescue organization is a person or a group of people who care for homeless animals, often focusing on one particular type of animal or breed. Petfinder.org can help you find one in your area, or a simple Google or Bing search will turn up listings. Visit the rescue organization and ask to see where the animals are kept before relinquishing the animal.
Taking an animal off the street is risky but it is an act of kindness that often means the difference between life and death for an abandoned, confused animal.