I’ve been counting my blessings that no friends and family members have been dramatically impacted by the current recession. No one has gone untouched, everyone I know is worried, but no one I know is without roof nor food.
This week’s Impact Effort showed me a different side of the recession, and I can no longer say I know no one who has truly suffered.
Katie, a 13-year-old, yellow female, nearly faced death when her owners were forced to give her up, in part, due to financial difficulties. A Lab Rescue of the Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac volunteer happened upon Katie and her owner at a vet where Katie was due to be euthanized. Thankfully, the owner contacted Lab Rescue and Katie is now at a foster home awaiting adoption.
Sadly, Katie’s story of losing her family isn’t unusual. While US national statistics are hard to come by, in 2009, the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) estimated that between 500,000 and 1 million cats and dogs in the US were at risk of becoming homeless as a result of the continuing economic downturn. Anecdotal evidence ranges from a 9% to 45% increase in number of pets put up for adoption last year — with foreclosure often the reason cited.
Even more shocking, according to the Humane Society of the United States, every eight seconds an unwanted animal is put to death in US shelters, not because of health, but because they’re unwanted. Thanks to Lab Rescue, there is at least one less death this year.
This week’s love
I got involved with Lab Rescue this week thanks to my friend, Kathy, who volunteers with the group. Amongst several small tasks like reference checks and a housecheck that I took on to help Lab Rescue, together, Kathy and I transported a potential “escape artist”, named Daphne. While Daphne may, indeed, have a bit of Houdini blood in her — she’s an extraordinarily clever gal — what was most striking was her winning personality. After several laps at the water bowl, a brief walk and “pee stop”, she good-naturedly hopped in the back of the car. Though nervous and tired from being cooped up in one of many crates in the back of her transport van for several hours, she showed a real affection for us human beings with lots of friendly ear licks and snuggles for scratches behind her own ears. Daphne was quickly examined, evaluated and recently cleared for adoption. I have high hopes that she’ll find herself a kind, gentle family to call her own.
The good news
While numbers of pets seeking homes have increased, so has the number of placements by Lab Rescue. Placement averages in previous years was approximately 600; last year, Lab Rescue accounted for 881. In this past weekend alone, 23 dogs were adopted through Lab Rescue, mostly from the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
What can we do?
Aside from adopting — which as soon as you see the adoptees, I guarantee will be very tempting — there are many ways to get involved. Lab Rescue, and organizations like it, are always seeking volunteers to assist in doing house or reference checks, transports of dogs to vets, or fostering. Many tasks don’t have to take up a lot of time or effort, but the outcome for a four-legged friend could be a new life.
Other ways you can help:
- Donate old sheets, towels and blankets to your local shelter,
- If your pet has passed on and you’re not ready to adopt yet, consider donating your animal equipment. Check with your local shelter or Humane Society for a list of what their current needs are. Crates, carriers, leashes, food, snacks, kitty litter, grooming products and equipment, toys, bowls, etc. are among the items often sought after.
- Donate money. Anything you can donate, even extra change, is welcomed by your local shelter or rescue organization. If you prefer to donate more personally, consider buying a leash or collar (check with your local shelter for their preferred brand and type).
- Volunteer to walk dogs at your area shelter.
- If you have computer skills, offer to help develop or update a database, update the website, or keep an Excel spreadsheet.
- If you have writing skills, volunteer to write grant proposals or website content.
Lab Rescue has a two-fold mission to (1) rescue, foster and place homeless, abused, and/or abandoned Labrador Retrievers (and Golden Retriever-Labrador Retriever mixes) and (2) provide a referral service for owners seeking to place their Labradors in new homes. As we see it, what they’re simply doing is saving lives and helping make families complete. Lab Rescue will remain an ongoing Impact effort for us.