The following was written by Pam D'Addio, West Palm Beach Animal Rescue Examiner. I am sharing it, with her permission, because I think is beautifully written. Those of us involved in rescue can identify with this very well.
Whether you've picked up a stray, adopted your pets from a shelter or rescue, donated to help animals, or you spend your life dedicated to rescue work each and every day, you're a wonderful light in the dark fight against pet overpopulation and euthanasia.
Shelter and rescue workers are reminded of the sad statistics each day:
- millions of dogs euthanized in shelters each year
- 14,000 animals euthanized last year in Palm Beach County alone
- 60% of dogs who enter shelters euthanized due to lack of loving homes for them
- up to 50 animals a day taken in at Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control (more statistics)
It's an overwhelming problem and one that can really weigh on the hearts of those who care so much. We hear about the Michael Vick's of the world. We see puppy mills featured on television, and the news covers every disgusting case of animal abuse as it unfolds. Most people 'tsk tsk' and feel sad for a moment, but others roll up their sleeves and get busy to be part of the solution.
Quietly, behind the scenes, without any recognition, are legions of amazing people who are making a difference in ways large and small. They are the unsung heroes whose only 'thanks' is a sloppy, wet kiss from a rescued dog or the tiniest tail wag of a frightened, beaten-down canine soul who's learning to trust again. And that is enough to keep them going when their hearts get heavy.
It's easy to wonder how your small efforts can ever help curb the problems we face in sheltering. It's easy to be discouraged as you hold a trembling, sick, or injured animal in your arms and know how many more there are. It's devastating to know that an animal you could not save has been lost. It's easy to shed tears and be bogged down by the vast numbers who need your help.
And yet, despair can be erased in a moment as you watch a long-time shelter 'guest' go home, or an abused animal slowly learn to trust you. You can make a difference, one dog at a time.
Every animal advocate, every shelter or rescue worker, every person who donates, adopts, spays and neuters, or works diligently every day should read this story when the going gets tough. It's been rewritten in many forms, but originally was written by Loren Eiseley, an anthropologist.
- One day a man was walking along a beach as the sun was rising on the day. As he walked along the shore, he noticed a small figure up ahead. As he got closer, he realized it was a small boy who was picking up objects from the sand and throwing them into the sea. As he approached, he said to the boy, "What are you doing?". The boy replied, "Throwing starfish into the ocean". "But why?" asked the astounded man. "Because the sun is coming up and they are stranded on the beach. The tide has gone out and if I don't help them, they will die". The man thought for a moment as he looked up and down the vast stretch of beach covered with hundreds of starfish. "Young man, don't you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!" At this, the boy bent down to pick up yet another starfish, walked to the water's edge and threw it in. "Made a difference to that one", he said.
If you'd like to join the fight to save the lives of homeless, abandoned, abused animals, here are ways you can help:
- Adopt, don't buy! Purchasing a dog feeds the demand for more to be produced. Adopt a shelter dog or one from a specific breed rescue group. They rock, and will be forever grateful!
- Spay, neuter, and tag / microchip your pets. This will vastly cut down on the number of animals in shelters.
- Foster. Check with local shelters who always need foster homes for some special dogs. Read more here.
- Donate. Local shelters are always strapped for funds. The more money they raise, the more pets they can save. Along with money, shelters appreciate items they need and most post a wish list on their websites.
- Volunteer. Whether it's the down-and-dirty, wonderful work of walking dogs, joining a fund raising team, stuffing envelopes or planning events, shelters need you and your amazing talents!
- Advocate. Become involved in animal legislation by writing to representatives and making your voice and the voice of helpless animals heard.
- Share. Spread the word by sharing articles and info on community shelter work and events on your social networking sites. You will find yourself meeting some great, like-minded new friends who share your vision!
- Pick up that starfish! Know that every little act of kindness to animals helps. You can't do it all, but we can all do something.
As the saying goes, "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. It will be enough".Pam D'Addio is currently in her sixth year as the Volunteer and Media Coordinator at Tri County Humane Society in Boca Raton. A passionate animal advocate, Pam is knowledgeable on a variety of canine topics such as behavior, care, training, and rescue / sheltering issues. Pam and her dog, Kayla, a Tri County adoptee, visit nursing homes as a therapy team. Pam also speaks at local schools to educate children to become responsible pet companions. She lives in south Florida with her husband, two daughters and seven rescued pets. Contact Pam at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pam can be found on Facebook @ Dog Rescue Examiner.