Wednesday, December 5, 2012
stop the littering
Today I went to the animal shelter to volunteer after a long hiatus. I always forget how much I absolutely love socializing with the cats, giving them love and affection, and seeing all of the new animals (today there was a turtle, a dove, a chinchilla, rabbits, birds, and a whole lot of new cats I didn't recognize!).
I always make it a point to visit the older cats first, since so many people are drawn to kittens and I want to make sure the more mature cats who might not get as much attention get some TLC. At long last, I ended my visit by going into a small room that held eight--EIGHT!--kittens. Soon they were clamoring over each other to get to me, rubbing on my legs, playing with my shoelaces, gently nibbling on my fingertips, and two were even climbing up my back and hanging out on my shoulders (like little pirate parrot kitties).
I couldn't stop smiling and my heart was melting to receive just as much love from these kittens as I was sending to each of them. And yet, even after ending my visit on such a high, I had a sadness that deep down could not and would not go away.
The thing is, even after such a long absence from volunteering at the shelter, I saw some cats that still had not found homes. Many people want to adopt a cute little baby kitten, and an older cat is unattractive to them. Others don't want to adopt two cats, and some of the cats are siblings that shouldn't be separated. Perhaps a cat has had trauma, or never received enough love as a kitten (he or she could have been born a stray). Perhaps the cat was never properly socialized, and has a hard time coping with its new surroundings and the multiple strangers it sees.
All of this applies to dogs, too. There are just too many cats and dogs and not enough loving, healthy, happy homes. Thankfully, the shelter where I volunteer has an "open admission" policy, which means they don't turn away any animal. They only euthanize those animals that display severe aggression or behavioral problems, or have terminal medical problems. According to their website, "as long as the animal remains healthy and behaviorally sound, he or she will have a space in our adoption program."
Still, that's not a permanent, sustainable solution. Those animals that are still at the shelter--who have seen others come and go for months--they too want a home. Every new animal that comes in (and believe me, there's never a shortage of homeless animals) means new competition. Humans definitely aren't the only species with a population control problem.
I know it's semi-cheesy and I'm copying a bumper sticker I saw in Charlottesville, VA a long time ago, but I'm going to say it anyway.
Don't Litter. Spay or neuter your pets.