He was a medium-sized, brown mutt of indistinguishable breed. Whether it was his sad eyes or tentative approach that softened my heart, I cannot say, but it was clear to me he just needed some loving. It was he who drew me to the “Animal Hope-Nitra” (ATN — German only) booth at the pet show in town. The volunteers of this rescue organization explained that he had been found in one of the “killing camps”, “living” under inhuman conditions, nearly starving. When we met him, thanks to ATN’s care he’d gained weight, though we could still see his jutting ribs. He and I became quick friends. If Nils and I didn’t live in the city with no park nearby, he would’ve gone home with us.
That was about two years ago. I obviously haven’t forgotten that meeting, nor the organization that rescued that dog. Nils and I have known that we wanted to do something to support ATN. Now that we’re in the middle of an enormous international move — having many items to discard — an opportunity has finally arisen.
Today, Animal Hope-Nitra was the recipient of one large carpet and several pillows; towels and blankets will follow.
In return, I got the best “thank you” I could’ve asked for.
Like many animal rescue efforts of its type, ATN is an entirely volunteer organization. They take in stray, abused and abandoned animals (in particular, dogs and cats), provide needed medical care and shelter, and work to find homes for these friends. A quick look through their animal placement photos will surely make your heart melt too (click on any of the links to see the beautiful photos).
What we can do
All shelters and rescue operations can use monetary donations, and, of course, are seeking good homes for their charges, but if you can’t provide either at this time, there are other ways to help. Google “animal shelter” or “animal rescue” with your state, city or region and you’ll fine an organization in your area.
Volunteer: Many local shelters welcome volunteers of different types. Last year, for Week 29′s Impact Effort, I worked with a friend at Lab Rescue of the Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac, helping to transport a needy Lab. Organizations welcome volunteers with a few hours of time for transport, manning a booth, or dog walking, or who have specific skills to offer, e.g., administration, marketing / p.r., etc.
Donate in-kind: Like ATN, many shelters are crying out for materials that keep them going day-to-day. A few examples of typically needed items include:
- Dog and cat food
- Accessories: leashes, collars, harnesses, toys, scratching posts, brushes, food bowls, litters, etc.
- Bedding: dog beds and baskets, kennels, towels, rugs, rubber mats, etc.
- Cleaning equipment: shovels, buckets, brooms, etc.
- Office equipment in good working order
Again, these are just a few examples of the types of things many shelters need. Check with your local shelter for their specific needs.
What we can ALL do for Europe’s animals
The cruelty endured in some European countries would shock and sicken you. In one country, during pre-hunting season, one breed of dog is often starved because hunters believe they hunt better when hungry. Post-hunting season you’d image a reward? Well, dogs are abandoned, hanged, thrown down wells, shot, or poisoned. In another country known for its long civilization, “shelters” are paid by the state per animal, so they cram as many as as possible in, certainly never encourage adoptions, and spend as little as possible on care. Even death is okay because there’s income per animal for incineration. It’s not uncommon to see weeping, open wounds and tumors, sometimes from cases of animals devouring each other.
These and other deplorable actions must stop. Doctors for Animals (Ärzte für Tiere) in Germany, along with other animal loving organizations encourages all of us (you do not have to live in Europe to sign) to help push the European Parliament to actively enforce measures to protect animals from cruelty and suffering. Please add your signature to this PETITION to be sent the Committee of the European Community.
The animals of Europe thank you.