Animal Rescue: Adopt A Pet!
I’ve been into animal rescue since I was a little kid. I was always bringing home hungry and abandoned pets and rescuing wild animals that were injured or otherwise in harm’s way. Some had been abandoned by their mothers, and in some cases, the nursing mother had been killed. I just about always had a critter or two around that I was caring for. Fortunately, I had a very understanding mom who was also concerned with animal welfare, so I had a powerful ally in my corner. Before I continue with my animal rescue stories, I want you to understand that I'm a sane, reasonable person. I'm not some blathering, hot-headed idiot. In fact, I could even be called polite. Patient, even. I taught high school seniors for years, and believe me, patience is defintely a requirement for the job! I tell you this so that you can at least partially understand my personal shock when I was ordered to leave a 7-11 recently, as a result of an animal rescue I performed.
This is about a recent dog rescue. A few weeks ago, my daughter, my two grandsons, and I made the drive to a neighboring city. She had to purchase her books for college, so we did a little shopping while we were in town. Of course, we also went out to eat - the best part of traveling out of town.
On the way home, we stopped at a 7-11 to get gas. I noticed a skinny dog hanging around the pumps, and animal lover that I am, I got out to pet it. A man pulled up in an old pickup, and I struck up a conversation with him. He was a regular at the store and informed me that the dog had been there for over a week.
She was pitiful. She went hopefully from car to car, looking for someone to help her. She was a medium-sized dog, with a short brown coat and big brown eyes. She was timid, and if I made any sudden movement, she cowered in fear. She had obviously been abused. She had also been starved. I could see every rib, along with her hip bones and even her skull.
As Mel was going in to pay for the gas, I told her to buy the pooch a couple of hot dogs. Meanwhile, I gave it some water. Melissa came back with a big can of dog food. They didn't sell hot dogs. I opened the can and fed the pup, and it quickly devoured the meal. I couldn't just leave without doing something, so I went in to ask the staff to please call the humane shelter to pick the dog up.
I made my request to the young girl behind the counter. She said they had called the shelter three times the previous week, to no avail. Then she informed me that the store owner was going to kill the dog that night.
I was shocked! I asked where the owner was, and she gestured to a big, burley man at the end of the counter. Before I realized what I was doing, I lit into him with a stentorian verbal tirade. I don't even remember everything I said. I do remember, however, the other customers standing around agape. I also distinctly remember his ordering me to leave the store. I told him I would leave as soon as I finished telling him exactly what I thought of him.
I exited the store, lifted the hatch on the back of Mel's SUV, and put the dog in. She went home with us. Another successful dog rescue!
Dogs and horses are my favorite critters, but I love all animals – including cats. We’ve turned our back yard into sort of a cat shelter. Our neighborhood is rampant with feral cats. I think this all started years ago, when one of our “crazy” neighbors decided to get several felines. After a few months, she got tired of caring for the cats and kittens, so she stopped feeding them. When they would come up to eat, she’d scare them away with a broom. My mom took pity on the felines and began feeding them. Mom was old, and the cats had become wild, so she wasn’t able to catch them. Of course, they multiplied. Our local animal shelters trapped a few, but when hubby and I came to live in Mom’s house, there were still feral cats roaming the neighborhood. After Mom had to be moved to an assisted living facility, I took over the responsibility of the cat shelter.
We leave dry food and water out at all times for any hungry cat that might pass by. Opossums and raccoons often take advantage of the free meal, too. Unfortunately, the problem only got worse as the females had kittens. I knew I had to tame the animals. I’d have some of the females spayed, and I’d get the kittens gentle enough to handle so that they could be taken to an animal shelter. At least that way they’d have a chance of being adopted.
It took me months to gentle the cats and kittens. I had to use the lure of canned food, as the dry food didn’t work. I guess they were just too used to it, so they required more of a treat. Once I could pet and handle the cats, I took the adult females to our veterinarian to be spayed. We kept a couple of kittens and took the rest to a local shelter. Hopefully, this will stop the feral cat problem in our neighborhood. I’m sure we’ll still get the occasional “dropoff,” but if and when we do, I’ll handle the situation humanely and responsibly.
Adopt A Pet
If you’re in the market for a new animal pal, adopt a pet. Why pay hundreds of dollars or more for a companion animal when you can adopt a pet for a nominal fee? Even better, the fee charged by most animal shelters and animal rescues often includes spaying or neutering and vaccinations, so it’s a really good deal.
If you decide to adopt a pet, you’ll most likely have an overwhelming choice of animals. Of course, dogs and cats are the most popular and perhaps the most numerous, but lots of other animals are available, too, especially in larger animal shelters. You might find pet birds, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, snakes, goats, sheep, pigs, horses, ponies, and donkeys.
Before you adopt a pet, think long and hard about your situation, knowledge, and lifestyle. Don’t choose an animal that requires special care unless you have the knowledge to care for it. Match your home and family with the right animal. Think about the amount of space you have, the amount of time you have to devote to a pet, and the amount of money you’re willing and able to spend on caring for an animal properly. Be honest with yourself. For example, the idea of owning your own horse might sound tempting, but if you know nothing about caring for an equine, such a decision could have tragic consequences.
Adopt A Puppy
As I’ve already mentioned, I have a special place in my heart for canines. If you feel the same way, adopt a puppy. Puppies are, for the most part, blank slates. They don’t often have a lot of “baggage,” so you have a great opportunity to train it to be a wonderful, loyal companion. It won’t take long for a young puppy to consider itself a normal part of your family pack.
When you adopt a puppy, learn as much as you can about its parents. That will help you to know how large the pup will grow. Of course, this information for rescue puppies isn’t always available, but someone who’s knowledgeable about different dog breeds might be able to offer you some ideas about the pup’s breed or breeds.
Another important point to remember when adopting a puppy is to get a health check from a veterinarian. Shelter dogs are exposed to lots of other canines, so that could mean exposure to diseases. Most animal shelters can’t afford the required staff or the required funding to do extensive tests on every animal in their care. Take the puppy for the health check before it ever sets paw in your home.
Adopt A Dog
If you don’t want to adopt a puppy and go through all the trials and trouble associated with puppyhood, adopt a dog. Older puppies and adult dogs can make wonderful pets, and they’re often much easier to care for when they’ve passed the destructive puppy stage. Sometimes you can even find adult dogs that are already house trained, too, which is a huge step in the right direction.
Some people are under the mistaken impression that all adult dogs in animal shelters are problem dogs. That is absolutely not true! The fault is more often with the owners, and not with the dogs. I’ve visited numerous shelters in order to adopt a dog, and I’ve seen and interacted with many wonderful, loving, well behaved canines. And even in our local animal shelter, the selection is pretty impressive. Our shelter is relatively small since it serves a small community, but they just about always have about twenty-five dogs and puppies for adoption. I volunteer there occasionally, and we’ve adopted dogs from there several times over the years, including the latest addition to our family, a purebred Basset hound. I’ve seen lots of other purebreds there, too, including German shepherds, black-and-tan coonhounds, Labrador retrievers, poodles, bulldogs, Chihuahuas, English pointers, beagles, bullmastiffs, and other breeds. Of course, there are always some adorable mutts on hand, too.
Before adopting a dog, be sure to take it out of its kennel, walk it, and handle it. You can tell a lot about its temperament that way. If you have kids in your family, be sure to see how the dog reacts to them, too. Under your strict supervision, allow them to handle the canine. Does the animal act relaxed, or does it “tense up” or show signs of aggression? Not all dogs are good with kids, so make sure you find one that is.
Animal Rescue Stories
I have lots more animal rescue stories. I will never understand humans' callous disregard for animal welfare. How can you just abandon an animal? How hard would it have been for a pet’s previous owner to have dropped it off at the animal shelter? Sure, it might have end up being euthanized, but even that would have been a better fate than starving to death, or than getting hit by a car on a busy thoroughfare and suffering a painful, agonizing death.
Some of my other animal rescue stories involve raising baby birds that had fallen from their nests. I’d feed and care for them until they were old enough to fly. At that point, I’d teach them to fly and eventually release them back into the wild. I’ve also rescued baby opossums, baby squirrels, and baby rabbits. Oftentimes, I had to feed the small creatures with eye droppers or syringes. I’ve bottle fed piglets when their mothers refused to care for them. I even rescued a toad once that was trapped in freezing water. And I can’t count the number of dog rescue and cat rescue actions I’ve taken over the years.
I suppose one of my most interesting or unusual animal rescue stories involved a litter of flying squirrels that were in our back yard. The mother was killed by a hawk, and the three babies were left to fend for themselves. They were still nursing, so we knew they’d die without our help. Mom had raised abandoned gray squirrels before, and she figured raising flying squirrels would be much the same. She was right! The babies grew into playful adolescents that had learned to eat on their own, so we were able to release them.
Animal rescue is near and dear to me, as you’ve probably figured out. Immature animals, injured animals, and abandoned pets are practically totally helpless. If we humans don’t lend them a helping hand, they’ll suffer needlessly and might even die a tortured death. I feel that it’s our duty as humans to be the caretakers of Nature. Few things are more rewarding than nursing an animal back to health and returning it to the wild or finding it a loving home. My husband always tells me that I can't save the world. But I'm giving it my best shot, with one animal rescue at a time!
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