According to the ASPCA, there are 5,000 community shelters for animals throughout the nation. These are independent shelters run mainly by volunteers. There are currently around 7 million companion animals going to shelters each year with nearly 4 million being euthanized according to national figures. (Source http://www.aspca.org)
Local Pet Shelters
About fifteen years ago, a seemingly insignificant event occurred which eventually changed my life considerably and it was a welcome change, although I had to wait a long time for it.
My husband and I were driving to the Iowa Great Lakes, a beautiful resort area, and stopped at a convenience store in Fostoria, Iowa. As I approached the counter to pay for my purchase, I noticed a donation can on which was written “People for Pets.” I asked the clerk, “Is this a pet shelter? What do you know about it?” She answered that “…a couple of ladies from Spencer run it…yes, I think it is for homeless dogs and cats.” I dropped some change in the can and headed back to the car. But, a seed had been planted.
Pet Health and Animal Shelters
Years passed. My husband and I retired from our teaching positions and began to contemplate where we might settle for our upcoming “life of leisure.” Little did we know then that we’d be busier in retirement than we could ever have imagined. Because we had become so enamored with “The Lakes,” as folks refer to the blue waters, oak woods, and meandering streams just south of the Minnesota border, we pulled up roots from our twenty-eight years of country living. We moved north that autumn and found paradise at the edge of Lake Minnewashta.
Fall became winter. In the deep freeze that January is in Iowa, we headed to our veterinary clinic to get vaccinations for one of our felines. Much to my delight, in the office were two or three large, energetic dogs! My eyes fell upon a charismatic white shepherd…she returned my gaze and immediately leapt onto the chair next to mine. I inquired as to whom she belonged (I was already smitten!) and learned that she and her compatriots had been homeless but were now living at People for Pets, awaiting a forever home.
A bell went off in my memory, “People for Pets!”…and my mind began to whirl….” Who would be a perfect human for this shepherd, Martha?” We already had two canines of our own, so I knew that I wouldn’t be able to take her with me. She felt otherwise, though, and tried to accompany me as we left the clinic.
Adopt a Pet from Animal Shelters
A mission had been planted in my heart. I contacted an animal aficionado who had been my student. I described Martha and my immediate attraction to her. It worked! The friendly shepherd would have a great home in the country with loving people! First, though, I needed to follow protocol, of course. My husband and I made our first-ever visit to People for Pets. I was instantly impressed with the cleanliness of the shelter and with the kindness of the volunteers who greeted us. With a little paperwork, Martha was soon on her way.
Since that pivotal day, my husband and I have become regular volunteers at this amazing shelter. Meeting so many dogs and cats, becoming friends with volunteers, helping bring people and pets together….is rewarding beyond words.
Thank you, Martha! Thank you, People for Pets!
Facts about Pet Ownership in the U.S. from the ASPCA (Source http://www.aspca.org):
• About 63 percent of all households in the United States have a pet. (Source: American Veterinary Medical Association)
• About 75 million dogs and about 85 million cats are owned in the United States. (Source: Pet Food Institute)
• According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), about 65 percent of pet owners acquire their pets free or at low cost.
• At least 20 percent of cats are acquired as strays. (Source: NCPPSP) Many strays are lost pets that were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification.
• More than 20 percent of people who leave dogs in shelters adopted them from a shelter. (Source: NCPPSP)
• The cost of spaying and neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising puppies or kittens for one year.
• The average cost of basic food, supplies, medical care and training for a dog or cat is $700 to $875 annually.
• About 75 percent of owned pets are neutered.
• The majority of pets are obtained from acquaintances and family members. About 15 to 20 percent of dogs are purchased from breeders, 10 to 20 percent of cats and dogs are adopted from shelters and rescues, and 2 to 10 percent are purchased from pet shops. (Source: Ralston Purina and NCPPSP)