Friday, May 28, 2010

Biggest Bang for the Buck in Animal Welfare

How can we make the biggest difference in animal welfare? The answer may not be as heartwarming as the story of an abused puppy or a box of cats turned in at animal control, but there is no doubt that the biggest bang for your buck is in spay/neuter programs.

I am always emotionally touched by stories of pets in severe need, and often we try to help those pets. We feel compelled to make a difference for that one dog or cat, and you, our supporters, always rise to the challenge of helping us make it a possibility. I continue to be awed by and grateful to our supporters.

But some parts of a broad animal welfare approach don't tug at the emotional heartstrings. A low-cost, widespread spay/neuter program is one of those parts. In the past three years, through our spay/neuter program called Casper's Fund, we have subsidized over 500 spay/neuter surgeries for Atlanta's pet owners. We have already hit the 200 mark for 2010, and we aren't even halfway through the year. Our program has prevented thousands of unwanted puppies and kittens from entering the rescue/abuse/stray cycle. And the pets who were fixed are healthier and happier as a result of not constantly dealing with the health and behavior complications that accompany an unfixed pet.

Spay/neuter isn't just good for the pets. For an investment of around $75, we can spay or neuter a dog or cat. On average, a cat may have 3 litters a year of 4-5 kittens, and dogs may have 2 litters a year of 6-10 puppies. So far in 2010, Casper's Fund may have prevented as many as 1500 puppies and kittens. These are pets that would be listed on Craig's List, given away outside of Walmart, abandoned at vet's offices or surrendered to animal control. Or even worse, many of these puppies and kittens are just dumped in fields or left on the side of the road.

Can you imagine the cost and resources needed to add 1500 more puppies and kittens into Atlanta's pet population? Your tax dollars pay for the ones that end up animal control. They are caught or trapped, housed and fed for the obligatory holding period, then euthanized. The cost per pet, even for those that stay 5 days and then are killed, is well over $75. For those that are lucky enough to make it to a rescue group, the cost to get them healthy and ready for a new home is $300-$400 minimum. For every $75 investment in spay/neuter, you can save the rescue groups at least $225.

We, as a community of pet lovers and animal welfare advocates, hate the killing that happens in Atlanta shelters. We lament the pet overpopulation problem, and often throw up our hands in frustration, asking "what can we do to really make a difference?"

The answer is very clear - support spay/neuter programs.

Our goal is to spay/neuter 200 pets between June 1 and August 1. In the midst of puppy and kitten season, we want to prevent as many pets from entering the homeless pet population as possible. Each pet requires a $75 investment for a spay/neuter surgery. We need your help to meet this goal.

Can you commit to fixing one in order to save hundreds?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saving Pets is an Ongoing Effort

The Paulding County shelter will be closing on May 28 for at least two weeks for renovation. During that time, the management of the shelter will also be changing. The Paulding County Marshal's Office is taking over the shelter, which has become a model shelter in the Atlanta metro area. The staff at the shelter are dedicated to giving the best care to the animals at the shelter, and getting as many as they can out alive. We'll have to wait and see what the new management does.

But those changes at the shelter are not the main subject of this post. Since the rescue community, media and Atlanta's citizens found out that any pets remaining on May 28 would be euthanized, the response has been overwhelming. The shelter was packed for the past 3 days, and shelter staff have been staying late, without pay, to finish adoptions. The Atlanta community has decided that killing these pets is not acceptable. These dogs, cats and other pets have done nothing to deserve their pending fate, and we, as a community, have responded to the call from the shelter staff to save them.

So far, nearly 150 pets have been adopted or transferred to rescue groups over the past 3 days. I am assuming this is a record for Paulding, and may be for any shelter in the Atlanta area. I am so grateful for the response, and the second chance that these pets give. But several dogs and cats are still there, and more are coming in every day. In a few days, when the media moves on to other stories, and the public is distracted by other stories, will the remaining pets have a chance? Or will they, and all of the other dogs and cats that come in this week, become just another statistic, and join the other 1533 pets that will in Atlanta between now and next Sunday?

1533 - that's 219 a day. That's the approximate number of pets that die in Atlanta shelters every day. While the response in Paulding has been inspiring, we, as a community, haven't yet saved one day's worth of pets. With this much media attention and call to action, we haven't yet saved 2% of the pets who will be euthanized in 2010.

But the response has given me hope. We ARE a community where killing is unacceptable. We are showing that we want a different outcome. We want something other than death for these dogs, cats and other animals that society has surrendered, abandoned and cast aside.

I am asking that we continue throughout the week to save the Paulding pets. Let's commit to not letting even one pet die because May 28 has arrived. But let's not stop there. Let's get the pets from Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cherokee, Clayton, Douglas and all of the other counties that face the same overwhelming numbers of dogs and cats that they need to find homes for. Let's make space in the rescue groups -- every pet adopted from a rescue group makes space for a shelter pet. Can't adopt? Then foster. Can't foster? Then volunteer. Can't volunteer? Then donate. Don't leave the solution to someone else. For that one dog or cat who is waiting, there might not be someone else.

There is only you.

These are some of the pets still waiting at the Paulding shelter. Click here for directions to the shelter to save one of these dogs or cats. Want to foster one of these pets? Click here to fill out a foster application. Want to donate toward the care of Paulding pets that we save? Click here.

Stay tuned for details of the Paulding pets that are joining the AARF rescue program - a mom and her nursing kittens, a young husky mix, and more to join this week. Thank you to all of you who have donated so far - you are helping us save them.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Support the Pawsapalooza Groups!

Want to support the groups that attended Pawsapalooza? Buy a 2010 "Unexpected Pit Bull" calendar and all of the proceeds will be split evenly among the groups that attended.

$10 price includes domestic shipping to a US address.

A Dollar a day Keeps the Dogs and Cats... Coming In

How much change is at the bottom of your purse or on your dresser at home? Maybe you have a pile of pennies in the glove box of your car? Can you spare a dollar a day to save a life?

Organizations like AARF rely on the support and generosity of our community members that believe in what we are doing. Without you, all of you, we cannot continue to save dogs and cats for dying in shelters, or spay/neuter pets to prevent more unwanted puppies and kittens from becoming homeless, or teach children about the importance of kindness toward pets.

I am challenging every one that reads this post to commit for one month to donate a dollar a day. You can donate every day, as a way to remind yourself of the ongoing need for the rescue and advocacy work that we do. Or, you can donate just once, and check our site and read the weekly newsletters to learn about how you are helping us make a difference.

The next time you drive past a stray dog on the side of the road, or see the picture of a kitten in a shelter hoping for a new home before her time is up, think about those quarters floating around in your pocket. With everyone's help, we can make a difference.

Without you, we can't. Help us make May a month of celebration, hope and second chances for the pets who are waiting. They are waiting for you.