In the December issue of Richmond Magazine, the publication highlights “75 Things Every Richmonder Should Do.”
While perusing the list of “gotta do and see” items over the weekend (which to my delight features our Fur Ball and other charitable events as No. 1), I was inspired to compile another list – things every Richmonder should do to help end pet homelessness in our community.
In the interest of space, I’ve narrowed down my list to the top five. So, if you love animals, and you want to help make a positive difference in the lives of those that don’t yet have a home to call their own, make sure you can check off each of the following:
1. Adopt; Don’t Buy
Every time a pet is purchased from a breeder or a pet store, it means that one fewer opportunity exists for a homeless dog or cat to find a new home. In the case of pet stores, in nearly all cases it also supports cruel and abusive puppy mill operations since pet stores typically acquire their animals from commercial breeding facilities. As long as pets continue to die in shelters for the lack of a home, it is our responsibility as a community to consider adoption as our only option. Shelters have pets of all breeds, breed mixes, personalities, shapes, ages and sizes, so you are guaranteed to fall in love with a wonderful pet that needs you.
Contributions of your time and financial support are lifesaving to humane organizations. At the Richmond SPCA, your gifts of time and money help stretch our budget so that we can save an ever-increasing number of homeless animal lives through programs of adoption, pet retention, spay/neuter, rehabilitation, humane education and more.
3. Re-home Rather Than Relinquish
If you find yourself unable to provide care to your beloved pet, make sure relinquishment is your last, not your first, option. The Richmond SPCA offers myriad programs of pet-retention and re-homing support to help keep your animal in a loving home and out of a shelter. Through our re-homing Web site, many pets find new families each year, and they never become homeless in the process. Likewise, through programs like our pet pantry, low-cost wellness clinics and more, we are providing pet guardians with the tools and resources they need to retain rather than relinquish their companions.
4. Read Up
Animal welfare topics are complex and multi-faceted, and they can be complicated. Do what you can to educate yourself on important humane issues by subscribing to our blog and that of national organizations like the ASPCA or HSUS. Explore our Web site and that of organizations like Maddie’s Fund. Learn about the humane movement and the essential elements to progress and success.
The single most effective way to end pet homelessness is to reduce the overall number of orphaned animals being born each year and consequently entering shelters. This is accomplished through high-volume, targeted low-cost and free spaying and neutering. The Richmond SPCA’s Smoky’s Spay/Neuter Clinic performs more than 14,000 sterilization procedures annually to pets throughout Greater Richmond. And the icing on the cake – the surgery also benefits the future health of your animal.
Have a couple on the list that you haven’t yet done? Hop to it – for the sake of the orphaned animals that depend on you.