Thursday, January 28, 2010

"But some days are hard, like a soldier's steel-toed boots"

We've all felt the affects of the dwindling economy in some way or another. Whether it's riding your bike to work to save on gas money, losing your job, packing your own lunch instead of going out with colleagues, losing your house, or even clipping and saving more coupons than you've used in your entire life. Whatever you're experiencing right now, trust me - someone else in the country is dealing with it, too; and then some.

Every night on the news or on my favorite alternative news websites, I hear or read about people from all walks of life that are struggling. The people that speak about their pain, humiliation, suffering, and never ending battles don't realize how lucky they are that they can speak for themselves; that they can ask for help and let others know that they are in need. But what about the other victims of our economic recession? What about the creatures that can't speak for themselves, but so desperately deserve attention to their needs?

One year ago, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimated that up to 1 million cats and dogs nationwide "are at risk of becoming homeless as a result of the continuing economic downturn."¹ In 2008, the Berkeley shelter took in 25% more animals than they did in 2007 - and that margin has grown significantly since then.

Some of you may remember the "Recession Pets" video that was posted on the BACS-Doggie blog this past August. With each day, more cats and dogs arrive at the shelter with nowhere else to go. At this moment, every dog kennel at BACS is full; as are 3 of the 6 'night drop boxes'. In fact, the shelter is so full that for the first time in several years, Berkeley Animal Care Services - with the lowest euthanasia rate in the state of California - is preparing to put dogs to death to create more space for the never ending number of homeless dogs that make their way into their kennels.

Approximately 4,132,231 cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters each year in the United States alone. ² Are we really a society full of people that love, care for and provide for a helpless creature only to abandon it years later at the city shelter? Are we truly capable of abandoning something that we've committed to being responsible for? Times are tough - but are they really that tough? Not only are people abandoning their pets left and right to stay afloat, but some are going as far to actually breeding more dogs to sell to make extra money! If you stop by the "pets" category on Craigslist - you'll find an endless number of dogs being "rehomed" for a "Reasonable fee" of $200, $300, or $400.

For the life of me, I can't comprehend how people seem to have no empathy for other living creatures. If you are like me and want to help to stop this MADNESS, here are a few things you can do right NOW to help:

Foster. Foster homes are desperately needed for our shelter dogs. The staff at BACS don't want to euthanize any healthy, adoptable dog - or any senior dogs - or any dogs that need "some training". They don't want to do it at all! But due to the current state of things, they have no other options. You want to make a difference right now? Foster a dog and I promise you that you will be saving a life. By fostering one shelter dog, you will in essence prevent another dog from being put to death to make space available.

Donate. Donate money to rescue organizations that are willing to work with the Berkeley Shelter and transfer dogs into their organization. By donating money to various Bay Area rescue organizations you will not only be promoting their rescue, but you'll provide the necessary funds to help save more lives.

Right now are you thinking, "But what can I do for the future so this doesn't happen again?"

You can donate money to the Berkeley Animal Welfare Fund to help build the new Berkeley Shelter. This shelter will be a larger, safer, and more comfortable environment for the homeless animals that will inevitable make their way there. By donating money to BAWF, you'll help the construction and design of this building. (The demolition of the previous site just started this afternoon!!!)

You can donate to various Spay and Neuter "programs" to help raise awareness and availability to Bay Area citizens. Help promote the cause! What a better way to start than by getting your own pets spayed or neutered! Are you a Berkeley resident? Get a voucher!

Every dog deserves a second chance at a better life with a person, couple, or loving family that will care for it until the end of it's days. Help our shelter dogs!

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