March 9, 2010

Extending the Mindful Life to Homeless Pets

This is Woody.

He came to Portland, Ore. from a shelter in California where he was nearing the end of the line. Over the weekend, we adopted Woody. He’d been transferred to the Oregon Humane Society from California through the OHS Second Chance program, which helps shelters throughout the region. Each year OHS accepts more than 2,000 animals from shelters throughout the Northwest, giving them a second chance to find a forever home.

I’m a sucker for animals, especially animals in need. This probably comes from growing up in a home full of animals — a couple of horses, always dogs, cats, a goat, two tortoises, chickens and even a one-eyed hamster named Wink. All of our animals had a story of how they made it to us, and every single one of them spent the rest of their lives lazing in the sun, exploring our little farm and hanging out with people who loved them.

While I understand this is a little idyllic (okay maybe more than a little), I don’t think I’m off base in thinking that our mindfullness should extend to animals, and that they deserve a good, happy home and family just like we do.

Woody is one of the lucky ones, but we left the shelter with a bittersweet feeling after seeing hundreds of other dogs waiting for their people.

If you’ve traveled to a developing country, you’ve definitely seen dogs running the streets, and if you’re like me you’re heart breaks a little to see so many animals. Now what did you think? Maybe something along the lines that the people, or the country isn’t taking care of their animals. They need shelters, they need education, they need spay and neuter programs… I’ve sure thought all of those things.

But you know what? In the U.S. millions of animals are without homes, except our homeless pets are nearly invisible. We have shelters that house these guys. We have spay and neuter programs all over the place — low-cost and even free services to help fix the problem. Yet we still have an enormous problem. Between 3-4 million cats, dogs, kittens, and puppies currently put down each year in America.

So, while we may not see homeless pets every day. They’re here. They’re sitting in a shelter and waiting for a family. It’s depressing, and an overwhelming problem, but it’s something we can tackle.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Spay and neuter your pets! You have no excuse. By spaying and neutering your own pets and encouraging others to do the same, we can tackle the overpopulation crisis. Many shelters offer free, or low-cost services, click here to find a center near you. And fixing your dog is not cruel or taking away his right to procreate — it’s making his life, and thousands of others better.
  2. Adopt a dog or cat. Six to 8 million animals enter shelters each year and the majority of these animals will be fabulous additions to any family. It’s overwhelming to think about, but think about it from your new pet’s point of view — you just gave him a second chance at life, and that’s huge. Look up your local shelter and give a dog or cat a forever home today — emphasis on forever. Make sure you’re ready to adopt and can give your friend a happy home for the rest of his or her life.
  3. Give. Tens of thousands of good folks are passionately and tirelessly working to save homeless pets every day. Look up your local humane society or shelter and donate, or give to one of the national or international animal protection organizations. Here’s a couple to get you going: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), The Humane Society, and The World Society for the Protection of Animals.

So take a minute to extend your mindful life to animals like Woody, who deserve a second chance. Be aware, and tell other people about our homeless pet problem.

That’s half the battle.

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Emily Nuchols  |  Contribution: 3,820