By Linda Cole
With millions of cats and dogs in animal shelters, there’s a lot to pick from. Different sizes, colors, mixed breeds, purebreds, personalities and ages. A study done by the ASPCA looked at reasons why people adopt the shelter pet they pick. This is important research because it can give shelters insight as to why certain pets may be overlooked by possible adopters.
Shelters are already aware of black dog syndrome, a bias against black dogs and black cats. For some reason, people looking at pets miss seeing the darker colored ones. It’s possible they are overlooked because some people are superstitious about black cats, in particular. The lighting in shelters isn’t always good and if a darker pet is hiding in the corner of his cage or sitting way in the back, they may not be seen as easily as the lighter colored pets.
According to the study, it may be the ‘cuteness factor’ that attracts people to certain pets. Last year, the ASPCA set out to try to figure out why people picked the specific pet they did. They asked 1,500 people who adopted a pet to fill out a questionnaire at five shelters across the country. Was it the pet’s age or physical appearance, or perhaps their behavior that caught the person’s eye? They discovered that when someone adopted an adult cat or dog, behavior was at the top of the list for consideration. The age of the pet made no difference. When it came to kittens, age was the deciding factor, and people chose a particular puppy based on physical appearance. For the cat loving adopter, what the kitten looked like didn’t matter, and a puppy’s behavior was ranked at the bottom for those who picked a puppy.
The purpose of the survey was to shed light on how a potential adopter’s thought process worked and what they looked for when making their decision. The results have given shelter workers insight as to how and why certain pets may be overlooked. It also points out the importance of talking with people looking to adopt to help them see the potential in all of the shelter pets. The study can help workers learn how to show off a pet’s ‘inner beauty’ for those animals that may be less likely to be adopted because they aren’t as cute as others. A pet may have the perfect personality and behavior for someone, and the survey suggests shelter workers may need to point out the benefits of another pet that might be a better match for the adopter’s lifestyle.
By Linda Cole
There’s nothing worse than suddenly discovering your pet is missing. I know from experience how hard it is to search for a lost pet when you have no idea which way they went or where on earth they could be. In the past, all you could do was hang posters, talk to neighbors, walk the area around your home, and worry. It may not take the worry away, but there is a newly launched network that may be able to help. The Lost Pet Alert Network may be your best hope if you’re searching for a lost pet.
You can find animal shelters in every community across the country, in rural and city locations. Some are small and others are quite large. Over the last several years, pet populations in shelters have increased because of the slow economy. The Lost Pet Alert Network was launched on December 5, 2011 in an effort to help pet owners find lost pets that have made it into a shelter or rescue organization.
The best tool we have as pet owners that can assure a lost pet’s return is the microchip. Other than a tattoo that can help you identify your pet, a microchip contains pertinent information someone scanning you pet needs in order to return him to you. It has become a practice for animal shelters and rescue organizations to scan pets entering their facilities to see if there is an implanted chip. After all, it’s to their advantage if they can quickly return a pet to his family. Shelters depend on donations to operate and the slow economy has also slowed donations to many shelters across the country, leaving a lot of them struggling with their budgets.
|My Silly Annabelle
By Julia Williams
My good friend Kevin has been volunteering for his local animal shelter for many years. Kevin, aka meowmeowmans, writes about the homeless cats on his wonderful blog, Animal Shelter Volunteer Life. He tells of the lucky cats who find their forever homes, and he also features the many sweet souls still waiting to be adopted. I love to read the adoption stories, because I know just how much the lives of the animal and their new family will change for the better. I celebrate each of these adoptions, sometimes silently with a smile but very often with a “wahoo!” or a “yay!” In stark contrast, the stories of those not yet chosen make me melancholic. No animal should have to know abandonment and homelessness, yet far too many do.
Recently, Kevin posted about the kitties not yet chosen, and said he hoped they could find a home before Christmas. We know the reality is that most will not, and yet we can’t stop hoping that some will go from unlucky to lucky, if not before Christmas then at least sometime in the New Year. When faced with a reality that is less than ideal, hope is what keeps us going; it keeps us doing what we can do in the moment until a better time.
My version of a Christmas miracle would be loving homes for every homeless pet, nutritious food for every hungry pet, and love for every animal who is alone and lonely. I shudder to think what would’ve happened to my precious cats Rocky and Annabelle if I hadn’t been asked to water someone’s plants, only to discover two tiny kittens badly in need of rescue. If they had somehow managed to survive – which isn’t likely considering they were very ill and no one was caring for them – they wouldn’t have a better life than the one they have now, with me.
By Langley Cornwell
When I read about a shelter dog that finds a loving forever home, it warms my heart. When I read about a shelter dog that finds a loving forever home and goes on to make it in the big leagues, I stand up and cheer, warm heart and all. The story of Wallace will make you feel the same way.
Nobody is sure about the first part of Wallace’s life. He was a wandering stray when some good Samaritans found him and took him to the Humane Society. Being an overly energetic, high-drive dog, Wallace had a real struggle; he couldn’t acclimate to the boredom of kennel life. The animal shelter staff was losing faith in this ‘impossible’ pup. The longer Wallace lived at the shelter, the worse his behavior became. His future didn’t look bright.
That’s when Roo Yori and his wife Clara learned about Wallace. With the help of other animal lovers and advocates, the Yori’s pulled this athletic dog out of the shelter environment on August 1, 2005.
By Linda Cole
Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what your cat really wants. For some felines it’s a fresh batch of catnip or a cozy snooze in the sun. The more sophisticated kitty wants to keep up with what’s going on, and listening to tunes or their favorite talk radio program is the cat’s meow for them. Cat Galaxy Radio is celebrating their 10 year anniversary and it’s the only radio station that’s programmed by cats for the enjoyment of their cat listeners.
According to professional pet sitters, our feline friend’s favorite music is classical and country music. And their favorite talk radio station is National Public Radio. Nohl Rosen is a cat lover living in Arizona who was trying to figure out one day what his feline friend wanted. His cat Isis kept meowing insistently. She didn’t want food or water, and she didn’t want to play. Nohl was beside himself until he put on a CD. As soon as the music started to play, Isis settled down.
When Nohl saw how she reacted to the music, an idea began to grow and out of it came Cat Galaxy Radio. Nohl has his own computer company, which made it easy to set up a radio station specifically for cats. He already had two cats that could help him set up programs for discerning kitties, and it seemed like the obvious thing to do. After all, if music made his cats happy, why not make it accessible for other cats to enjoy?
He put Cat Galaxy Radio on the Internet which gave him a worldwide audience. Nohl handles the DJ duties since cats don’t have opposable thumbs. His two cats, Isis and her brother Icarus, are in charge of the musical selections. If they give a musical piece a “paws down” it doesn’t make it on the air. Icarus is the assistant station manager and he decides what kind of music is played. Isis is the station owner and her taste in music isn’t country or classical; she’s into Ozzy Osbourne, smooth jazz, funk and R&B.
By Linda Cole
The old saying, “Every little bit helps” is true when it comes to helping pets in shelters. Teaching kids about giving and sharing are lessons that will stay with them for a lifetime. If you have a child who wants to do something to help their local animal shelter, there are small things they can do that will make a big difference in the life of shelter pets, and help the shelter, too.
Working with the animals. Most shelters have a minimum age requirement for working around pets. Many cannot allow children under age 16 to volunteer, because of their insurance. However, some shelters will let children help with feeding and socializing if they are with a parent or guardian who volunteers at the shelter. Ask your shelter what their age restrictions are. If your child is too young to work with animals, they can still help in other areas. Volunteers are always needed to stuff envelopes, unload supplies or help with other chores around the shelter.
Make toys, beds and blankets. Simple homemade dog and cat toys are always welcome. Kids can talk with local vets to see if they would be willing to display the homemade items and sell them. Mom and Pop stores are good places to contact, too. The money from the sales could then be donated to a shelter. Pet beds can be easily made out of foam or bed pillows with a homemade cover. Pet blankets are quick and easy to make. Homemade toys, beds and blankets are simple things kids can do to help out their local shelter.
Bake sales are fun for kids and can bring in much needed cash for shelters. Bake sales can be done with the help of a parent, church group, school or any other organization your child is involved with. Help your child make up posters to advertise with the shelter’s name included so people know who the bake sale will benefit. Homemade toys, pet beds and blankets can be included with the baked goods to encourage more sales. If you have a farmer’s market or flea market in your area, both are good places to sell the homemade products.