I have created a new career for myself in retirement as an animal advocate. I write articles to create awareness of shelter pets.
Why Yappy Hours Help Improve Shelter Environments
The group Friends of Manatee County Animal Services along with Animal Network, Inc., was excited to announce its first fundraiser, hosted by Motorworks Brewing as the first "Yappy Hour." The event raised $4265 to help with medical needs and supplies to benefit the county shelter.
"Yappy Hour" is held monthly at Motorworks Brewing in Bradenton to raise money for a variety of rescue organizations. The fundraiser was the first time that the county shelter had been able to be a beneficiary of money raised.
Fundraising for a Good Cause
This fundraiser is an example of what the community can accomplish when the phrase "it takes a village" is implemented. Vendors participated with great prizes, raffles, gift baskets, and a silent auction was also a part of the fundraiser. The newly formed board of the group Friends of Manatee County Animal Services along with representatives of Animal Network, Inc. were present to answer questions about both organizations. Adoptable dogs from the shelter were also available.
Families who attended were invited to bring their own pets on a leash to enjoy a family outing. Great food and drinks were available for purchase inside Motorworks Brewing, and pet-friendly treats were also provided.
How Social Events Lead to Higher Adoption Rates
Several adoptable dogs from the shelter also attended "Yappy Hour" in order to be showcased as deserving dogs that the dream team shelter staff cares for along with volunteers on a daily basis. The Manatee County Animal Services shelter staff makes every effort to get animals out into public arenas in order to find forever homes.
Opportunities such as "Yappy Hour" are helpful in providing public awareness and interest in adoption. Volunteers work diligently to socialize these dogs in playgroups and social events in order to facilitate adoptions.
Valuable volunteer with just one of the adoptable dogs from MCAS
Sponsoring Organizations Save Shelter Animals' Lives
The new group Friends of Manatee County Animal Services was recently formed to add assistance in helping with the medical and supply needs that the shelter has to care for the animals. The group is a non-profit organization The money raised from this fundraiser will go to help with heartworm treatment for shelter dogs that are waiting for their forever home. The new group also has a mission to promote adoptions for these deserving animals and to provide education materials for the community to emphasize responsible adoptions and responsible pet ownership.
The Animal Network, Inc. is an ongoing organization that provides support for MCAS. This organization participates in the monthly "Yappy Hours" that are held at Motorworks Brewing. It is instrumental in providing funds to pay for heartworm treatment for shelter dogs. Pet parents who adopt a heartworm+ dog from the shelter do not have to pay for treatment because of this organization's help. donate.
Both groups would like to give a huge thank you to the vendors who donated for this "Yappy Hour" . Beach Veterinary Clinic, LuLaRoe, Scentsy, and Farrell's Macrame were participating vendors.
Happy Story in Memory of This Precious Life
I began writing publicity stories/articles for Manatee County Animal Services shelter in Palmetto, Florida, after being involved in getting this precious German Shepard adopted at the 11th hour just before being euthanized. His last two years of life were spent in an awesome home with awesome pet parents.
He recently had to be sent to the Rainbow Bridge by this awesome family because of a debilitating hip and leg condition. I keep his picture as my profile picture as a reminder that responsible pet parents can make a difference in the lives of these shelter dogs when they adopt. This article is dedicated to Konig.
Resources for Interested Persons Who Wish to Donate
- Shelter Manatee Home - Animal Network Inc.
© 2017 Cindy Hewitt
Helping to save animals
Each of us can help bring about a time when there are No More Homeless Pets. In fact, that’s just what it is going to take — every person reading this article committing to do just a little bit to reach this goal. Sure, many of us think we can’t make a difference for one reason or another, but the truth is that no matter how little time, money or experience you have, you can still save an animal’s life. It’s easier than you think, and makes you feel good, too.
We’ve heard from so many of you who want to help but aren’t sure how, so we’re going to tell you about simple ways that you can make a huge impact. It’s time to do all we can to save the lives of homeless animals. They’re counting on us — and we know you can do it!
- I’ve never done rescue work before. I know more about spreadsheets than I do about saving homeless pets, but I’d like to volunteer and still make an impact. Is that possible?
Your professional skills can be an invaluable contribution for an animal welfare organization. Most rescue groups need volunteers who can help with professional services, such as public relations, graphic design, photography, project management — and even creating spreadsheets.
“When people think about volunteering with an animal rescue group, they often think that means socializing kittens and puppies,” says Melissa Riofrio, chairperson of the board of directors for Homeless Cat Network, a Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Network partner in the San Francisco area. “But what many nonprofits need most are management team members. It’s really challenging for groups to find professionals to help out with operational tasks. For example, we’ve been looking for volunteers with marketing expertise, but it’s been really hard for us to find anyone to help.”
By taking what you’ve learned working for “the man” and using it to help “man’s best friend,” you can save a lot of lives. To find rescue groups in your area, go to nmhpnetwork.bestfriends.org.
As much as I wish I could volunteer at a shelter, I just don’t have the time. Are there quick ways to help?
If you can spare two minutes, then yes. You can save animals by joining the Best Friends Legislative Action Center and helping to change your state, city and county laws. “The animals need our voice to create a time when there are No More Homeless Pets,” says Ledy VanKavage, senior legislative attorney for Best Friends. All you have to do is sign up to receive alerts about issues and ordinances affecting pets in your locale. “When you get an alert,” Ledy says, “you’ll get a chance to personalize an email to your elected officials on the issue. It can really make a difference and save lives, and takes just a couple of minutes.” Join the Legislative Action Center.
I started feeding a family of feral cats in my backyard. Is there some other way to help them?
The best way to help them is to do trap/neuter/return (TNR). Spaying or neutering the cats will make them healthier and happier, and it also humanely prevents them from giving birth to future generations of homeless kittens. Check with your local shelter or rescue group to borrow trapping equipment and to find low-cost or free spay/neuter services. For lots more information about TNR, visit Alley Cat Allies’ website at alleycat.org.
I’m not sure I’m cut out to be a volunteer. Is there another way I can help the No More Homeless Pets movement?
You can make an immediate and direct impact by adopting a shelter pet you can even adopt a rescued purebred. To find a new furry family member and save a life, check out Petfinder.com.
Another great way to help is to make a donation to Best Friends. “Financial gifts enable us to promote our national outreach efforts to increase adoptions and promote spay/neuter programs, as well as training and education for grassroots rescue organizations that are doing great work in their local communities,” says Rana Smith, Best Friends’ chief development officer.
“There are lots of ways to provide support, such as financial gifts of cash, stock or real estate, or including a bequest in your will.” You can also make a donation to Best Friends in the form of supplies, equipment, treats or toys to help the 1,600 animals at the Sanctuary.
My wife and I can’t adopt a pet right now, but we still want to give hands-on help to animals in need. Is there a volunteer opportunity that’s right for us?
If you miss happy wagging tails or head bumps but can’t commit to adoption, you can get your fix — and help save lives — by fostering homeless animals. Many groups around the country lack a facility to house and rehabilitate rescued animals, so the number of homeless pets they can save is directly linked to the number of foster parents they have as volunteers.
“The more foster homes we have, the more dogs we can pull from shelters,” says Laurie Cain of Pit Bull Rescue San Diego. “Shelters are overcrowded, since so many people are losing their homes or their jobs.” The same goes for cats, too.
Go to bestfriends.org/common/pages/networkpartnerssearch.aspx to find a No More Homeless Pets Network group in your area where you can volunteer as a foster parent today.
My finances are tight. I want to donate to the local rescue group but I don’t think I can swing it.
You’re in luck — there are lots of ways to provide financial assistance without giving a donation. For example, you can use search engines and online shopping sites, such as GoodSearch.com, that will donate their revenue to the rescue group of your choice. You can also volunteer with a local group to help with their fundraising efforts, such as by staffing their booth at an event or walking in their annual dog walk.
Another great way to help: Donate your unused items, services and airline miles for rescue groups’ auctions. For shelters and groups that hold rummage sale fundraisers, you can donate unwanted holiday gifts and all that used stuff in the back of your closet that you’ve been meaning to get rid of anyway. Your trash may be another person’s treasure, and these donations can add up to a lot of much-needed cash for shelters and the homeless pets they help.
“Local animal lovers give us a wonderful array of fun and unique treasures for our rummage sales, which help to fund spay/neuter efforts for Santa Cruz County’s feral cats and kittens,” says Lynne Achterberg of Project Purr, a Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Network partner in Northern California. “This year’s two sales netted $45,800. Over the years, our rummage sales have raised over $350,000 for community cat spay/neuter services.”
Puppy mills need to be put out of business for good, but what can I do to help make that happen?
There are so many things you can do:
- Adopt your pets and encourage your friends and family to adopt pets. Most people don’t realize that they’re unknowingly supporting the puppy mill industry when they purchase animals from pet stores or buy a puppy online.
- Talk with the owners of pet stores that sell puppies and ask them to feature homeless pets for adoption instead. If the store chooses not to do so, you can organize peaceful demonstrations in front of the shop and letter-writing campaigns to the owners of the building.
- Add an advocacy message in the signature line of your email to help educate people about the issue, such as: “Help stop puppy mill cruelty. Don’t buy — adopt.”
- Convince your local government to ban the sale of animals in pet stores. “You can attend a supervisors’ meeting or city council meeting and ask the legislative body to pass stricter laws for pet stores and dog breeders,” says Elizabeth Oreck, Best Friends’ national manager of puppy mill initiatives. “You can also write or call your city, county, state and federal officials and ask them to take the issue seriously. Your voice matters and you can make a difference.”
- Go to Best Friends’ puppy mill initiatives and click here to support the introduction of laws to regulate pet stores and puppy mills.
There are countless ways that you can get involved, such as volunteering with a local group to do trap/neuter/return for community cats, spending time with rescued animals at a shelter to help them become adoptable, or even volunteering at Best Friends’ Pup My Ride staging locations to help rescued puppy mill dogs.
To learn how you can get involved in your own community, use your skills at home to help animals, or volunteer for Best Friends at the Sanctuary and offsite programs, visit bestfriends.org/volunteer.
I’m 15 years old and want to help animals get adopted, but I don’t drive yet. Is there anything I can do from home to help?
You can use your social networking skills to promote adoptable rescued animals. Ask your favorite local rescue organization if you can help with their Facebook or Twitter efforts, or simply share their posts on your wall to encourage your friends to adopt.
I want more people in my community to spay and neuter their pets, but I have no idea how to convince them.
First, try to understand the reasons why they’re not spaying or neutering, such as cost, cultural issues or myths about the effects of spay/neuter. Then, address those issues directly with fliers, through letters to the editor of your local newspaper, and even with bumper stickers on your car.
Once you’ve educated people about the benefits of spay/neuter and convinced them that it helps reduce the number of homeless animals, provide them with ways to find free or low-cost spay/neuter services. SPAY/USA (1-800-248-SPAY or spayusa.org) is a great source of information. To promote spay/neuter of community cats, go to alleycat.org to order educational door hangers.
I worry that if I help a homeless dog or cat, I’ll fall in love and end up keeping him or her.
Well, that wouldn’t be so bad, would it? But if you can’t adopt and you want to help without getting attached, don’t worry. You can still save lives by volunteering as an advocate. Volunteers are always needed for outreach efforts, such as teaching children humane ways, advocating on behalf of pit-bull-type dogs and speaking up to protect community cats. To become a Best Friends outreach volunteer, visit volunteers.bestfriends.org.
I only have an hour here and there to spare, so would it even make sense for me to try to volunteer with a local rescue group?
Absolutely! Many organizations have volunteering opportunities for the time-impaired. You could join a team to help feed community cats (which can take as little as 15 minutes once a week) or walk dogs at a shelter for an hour or two. Even answering hotline calls and emails can be a huge help, and (bonus!) you can do that in your pajamas.
I’m an avid rescuer and I want to save more homeless pets, but my time and resources are pretty limited. Do you have any suggestions?
2. A New Approach for Cats
We have heard from many animal shelters that want a model that helps prevent overcrowding and the associated health and emotional issues for animals and also helps the shelter save money. Many people assume that increasing adoptions is the only way to increase live outcome rates. But statistics show that live outcome rates can actually decrease despite increased cat adoptions 1 . This is likely because many of the cats entering the shelters are community cats.
Community cats are not socialized to people and do not want to live in homes. They are unadoptable, but many shelters still take them in even though there is no possibility for a good outcome for them in the traditional shelter setting. This approach is inhumane and ineffective, as it fails to permanently reduce outdoor cat populations because of the vacuum effect. When cats are removed, the remaining cats breed to capacity and other cats move in to take advantage of the available resources.
Adopting a Feral Cat Protection Policy is the best way to quickly lower your intake numbers—and it can actually help you increase your adoption rate.
Benefits of a Feral Cat Protection Policy
When shelters stop accepting community cats, they see almost immediate benefits—intake numbers decrease, save rates increase, and community support increases. This approach frees up critical staff time and saves money, allowing shelters to focus more on increasing adoption rates, improving shelter conditions, and implementing Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) in the community.
This approach can also dramatically improve staff morale. The Humane League of Lancaster County in Pennsylvania had a high volume of community cat intakes and ended up spending a significant amount of its time and resources killing community cats. This was demoralizing for the shelter staff, and CEO Joan Brown realized that it was not fulfilling the shelter’s mission of animal protection.
“I finally went to the board and said, ‘Where in our mission statement does it say euthanize [healthy animals]?’” says Brown.
In 2008, The Humane League made the decision to change as an organization. It would no longer accept feral cats. Instead, it now embraces TNR as the logical and humane approach that supports its mission. “Not only has it made a difference in the shelter environment, but it has allowed us to be far more positive, happy and hopeful in our work,” says Brown.
In the rest of this toolkit, we will outline how to adopt a Feral Cat Protection Policy, as well as the subsequent steps your shelter can consider taking to increase save rates for cats.
New Approach to Adoptable Cats
Many shelters are changing their approach to socialized cats as well. To decrease the number of cats with negative outcomes in your shelter, you may consider only impounding the number of healthy cats that you can adopt out. It may seem counterintuitive, but there are alternatives to shelters. Instead of accepting every healthy cat who comes through your door, you can empower citizens to resolve issues that may make them want to relinquish the cat and share resources to help them keep the cat until there is space at the shelter, find the cat’s owner, find a new home for the cat, or look for a rescue organization that may be able to help. In many cases, it is actually better for cats to stay where they are instead of coming to a shelter. According to Barbara Carr, Director of Erie SPCA in Pennsylvania, cats who were waitlisted when the shelter was full had far more live outcomes than cats admitted to the shelter. Of those not taken in, 45% were rehomed, 14% were kept by their caregivers, and about 6% were taken to a rescue group. 2
Furthermore, when it comes to cats who are lost, statistics show that lost cats are more than 13 times more likely to be reunited with their owners through non-shelter means than through a shelter. More than 60% of cats who are lost return home on their own. 3
The Pets for the Elderly Foundation (PFE) is a 501 (c)(3) public charity whose mission is to provide companionship to senior individuals through pet ownership, while saving the lives of companion animals in shelters animals which might otherwise be destroyed due to lack of appropriate homes, and space limitations.
The program began in 1992 with two shelters near Cleveland, Ohio. Since then, PFE has seen great success and has grown to a nationwide program. PFE branched out nationally in 2002, and has helped successfully place over 78,000 companion animals with senior adopters.
What We Do
The Pets for the Elderly Foundation helps pay the fees to participating animal shelters throughout the United States for senior citizens (age 60 and over) who adopt a companion dog or cat from a participating shelter – including pre-adoption veterinary exams and spay/neuter, if part of the adoption fee.
Research shows the most serious disease for older persons is not cancer or heart disease – it’s loneliness. Pets offer affection, unconditional love, fight loneliness, and can help ease the loss of a loved one. Please help. Your monetary donation can make a difference. Few causes can have the potential benefits that will result from your contribution – you not only save the life of an animal, you can make a dramatic difference in the life of a senior. Currently, 54 shelters in 34 states are participating in the program. With additional funding, PFE would be able to expand the program to eventually include several shelters in each of the 50 states.
We urgently need your help! Your monetary donation can make a difference. Few causes can have the potential benefits that will result from your contribution. You not only save the life of an animal, you can make a dramatic difference in the life of an elderly person.
Americans are starting to give up their pets because of COVID-19 hardships
When three older Labrador retrievers wound up at Lily’s Legacy Senior Dog Sanctuary this summer, they hadn’t done anything wrong.
Luka, 7, Kona, 9, and Bella, 11, had lived happy lives together as ranch dogs in California. But when their owner lost his business and his home due to the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns, he could no longer afford to care for them. He’d tried for about a month to figure out a way to keep them but realized he didn’t have a choice.
“He was a mess,” Alice Mayn, founder of Lily’s Legacy, told TODAY. “Those dogs were his life. He’d done a really, really good job with them but he had to give them up.”
Because the dogs were so bonded to one another, the sanctuary managed to place them together in a new home. But Mayn is concerned that other senior pets are at risk during the pandemic. Lily’s Legacy, which is located in Petaluma, California, has already had five dogs surrendered due to the pandemic recession, and she knows of two more coming in soon for the same reason.
“We’ve had people that have been affected by the recession, and the lack of jobs, and not being able to pay their rent and that sort of thing,” she said. “They’ve lost their homes or have to move and can’t take a dog with them or are moving in with family and they don’t have room. There are a variety of things. I’m very worried about them — and this COVID thing obviously isn’t going to go away tomorrow.”
In August, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals released data estimating that 4.2 million pets will enter poverty in the next six months as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, a 21% increase from pre-pandemic estimates. The total number of animals living in poverty could rise to more than 24.4 million dogs, cats, horses and other animals.
Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA, said the organization is working to address the crisis. In March, the nonprofit launched a $5 million COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Initiative to help families keep their pets at home by improving access to veterinary care, pet food and supplies.
“We are working to reimagine how the animal welfare and veterinary field can best serve pets, owners and communities,” he told TODAY in an email. “Providing access to free pet food, supplies, veterinary care, emergency boarding and information will help keep animals safe and healthy, in their homes and out of shelters, while also sustaining important family bonds for millions of people.”
Bershadker suggests people facing economic hardships contact their local animal shelter, veterinary clinic, food bank or other community service provider to learn more about available resources.
Sarah Brown, division chief of Manatee County Animal Services, which operates the Manatee County shelter in Palmetto, Florida, said her shelter and others are focusing on individual needs to assist with whatever issues people are facing. For instance, MCAS started offering a drive-up pet food pantry at the onset of the pandemic for anyone in the community who needed assistance. Many people came for food, but others still couldn’t keep their pets.
“While we continue to offer assistance to the community, ownership of a pet has become beyond the capacity for so many,” she told TODAY in an email. “Aside from simply not being able to afford their pets, we have seen many impoundments made because owners are in jail or have been sent for mental assistance.”