Help Homeless Animals in Your Community
August 16, 2013
Humans aren’t alone when it comes to suffering from homelessness. Every year, thousands of companion animals are given up to shelters or simply relinquished into the wild and find themselves without a permanent home.
To help raise awareness of this issue, the third Saturday of August has been set aside as International Homeless Animals Day. To mark this year’s observance on Saturday, August 17, the CATalyst Council—a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats—has compiled a list of ways animal lovers can help the homeless animals in their communities—especially cats.
According to a 2011 report from the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators, 55 percent of animals relinquished to shelters were cats, but cats only made up 48 percent of adoptions. Further, only four out of every 10 cats that go into a shelter end up leaving the shelter. “Statistics like this show that more needs to be done to help cats in shelters,” says CATalyst Council Executive Director Dr. Jane Brunt.
The CATalyst Council offers the following three steps animal lovers can take to help address the issue of homeless pets:
1. Ensure that your pets are spayed or neutered. “Even if you have an indoor-only cat, it is very important to ensure that your feline friend cannot reproduce,” says Dr. Brunt. “Cats can—and do—escape, so ensuring that you will not be adding to the pet population is the first step in decreasing the number of unwanted companion animals in your community.”
2. Adopt a pet. When adopting a cat, ask the staff of the shelter or rescue to help match you to a new feline friend who will match your lifestyle. “Many times, people come into the shelter and base an adoption decision on looks alone. However, a successful adoption starts with choosing a cat whose personality fits your household and family. Many shelters have staff who assess cat personalities. They can help match you with cats that will thrive when you take them home,” says Jan McHugh-Smith, CATalyst Council Board Chair and CEO of the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region.
3. Donate to your local animal rescue organizations. You can donate your time or other resources to local organizations. Call your local organizations and find out what needs they currently have.
The CATalyst Council is doing its part to help homeless cats through a new initiative—the Catalyst Connection—which helps veterinarians and shelters in communities establish stronger partnerships. The pilot of the program was recently rolled out in Portland, Ore., and encourages owners to take newly adopted animals to see a veterinarian shortly after adoption.
A recent study from the American Humane Association showed that 93.3 percent of animals that received veterinary care shortly after adoption remained in their new adoptive homes. “Our hope is that through this initiative we can show that when there is a strong relationship between animal welfare organizations and veterinarians in communities, the pets in those communities benefit through remaining in their adoptive homes and receiving a lifetime of proper care,” says Dr. Brunt.