The Animal Advocate: Helping Others To Help Themselves Takes A Village
By Rebecca Stroud // July 13, 2015
it takes a village, So let's build one
She stands patiently by his side like she’s done her entire life, yet sill wondering what they’re doing in the strange and noisy place.
Her beloved owner is talking to someone, hands her leash to that person, and turns away as he walks quickly out the door. She strains to follow but the stranger holds fast; she barks, hoping he’ll hear her and return…but he is already gone.
Whining in desperation, she drops to the floor; she has been surrendered.
This is a scenario that plays out way too often in shelters across the country and it is especially heartbreaking when the pet is a senior. And although many are relinquished out of sheer disregard for the animal or for the lamest of excuses, there are some people who truly need help.
Yet many open-admission shelters have decided to charge a “surrender fee” to try and stem their intake but – to me – that is a bad idea; I also feel the same about getting rid of overnight gate boxes.
Not only will these measures put an additional strain on those trying to do what’s right (but can’t afford to and already feel guilty), it will also simply mean that more unwanted pets end up dumped on the side of the road, out in the woods, thrown over the shelter’s fence…or worse.
So wouldn’t it be better if these organizations compiled a list of available resources for such things as free food/medications, low-cost spay/neuter clinics, and pet-friendly housing, then post these lists where they can be easily viewed?
As perception is everything, wouldn’t it be better if animal shelters were seen as places of compassionate assistance vs. harboring the usual reputation of “my dog’s going to die there”?
Where I live in Florida – and to name just a few – we have the Space Coast Kibble Kitchen that provides pet food for the needy; the SPCA and Brevard Humane Society low-cost clinics; and a recently-formed group called “Willoughby’s Wishes” that offers counseling and information for those who struggle to keep their pets. However, as all are non-profits, they need donations to stay visible and viable.
And therein lies the conundrum…helping others to help themselves takes a village. The other day I read about a 60-year-old man who had fallen on hard times and became homeless as he absolutely would not give up his 12-year-old dog.
So they lived under a bridge until a local citizen found them sharing bread scraps. Long story short, the community rallied; the man now has a job, and he and his dog have a home.
Yes, we will always have people who view pets as disposable. But we will also have those like the man in the story above who was caught between a rock and a hard place with nowhere to turn.
Collectively, we can change that…but, again, it takes a village. So let’s build one.
Comments or questions? Please send to RebeccaStroud@aol.com with “The Animal Advocate” in the subject line.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca Stroud is a former newspaper reporter and columnist. She is now an independent author who has published numerous books and stories, including The Killing Sands, Murder 9.0, Dragon’s Moon, Devil’s Moon, Do Unto Others, The Animal Advocate, A Three-Dog Night, Zellwood: A Dog Story and Jinxed.
In addition to writing, Stroud is an editor and avid animal lover. She lives in Cocoa with her husband and their adored catahoula-boxer mix.
To contact Stroud, e-mail RebeccaStroud@aol.com