Retirement Volunteer: Help animals find new homes
After 30.4 years in education I retired in December 2010. For a year or so I did exactly what I wanted to do. But I was always conscious of the fact that I wanted to continue to help others.
A lifetime animal lover, I gradually became involved in trying to help our local shelter go no kill. They were killing close to 5,000 healthy adoptable pets a year.
Rather than become a shelter volunteer, I decided to begin educating our county on the importance of spay/neuter. That is, I would address the problem in a way as to keep it from happening. Our shelter was killing litters upon litters of kittens and puppies brought in by irresponsible pet owners.
There were also owners who no longer wanted their pets and, instead of being responsible and finding another home for their pets, brought them to the shelter. (an owner surrendered pet legally has no "time" and can be walked straight to the kill room because the shelter knows no one is going to come looking for it.)
There was already a great Volunteer Friends of the Shelter Facebook page that took pictures of the animals and posted information about them. It had a huge following.
I started a Facebook group, two actually, one local, one statewide, that focus on educating folks about spay/neuter and other animal issues.
We are all animal lovers and we want to improve conditions for animals in our county and state. We talk about the cruelty of puppy mills, encourage adoption from shelters rather than buying from pet stores (pet stores quite often get their animals from puppy mills) fostering animals such that they have a longer time to find a home.
At the shelter an animal had 3-5 days before it was killed. Our Group encourages people to support animal rescue groups, find a home for a pet they must give up, instead of taking it to the shelter to be killed, Trap, Neuter, and Release Feral cats, but above all things, preaches spay/neuter and helps people find low-cost options for getting this done. Our group sets up information booths at local events such as the fair, vaccination clinics, and barbecue cook-offs. We are working with churches and hope to have a group in local high schools.
I have adopted 10 animals, had them vetted and "fixed" and found homes for them. Last week I transported 25 animals to meet rescue groups. The farthest one was six hours of travel one way.
It is frustrating to see animals killed when just a little more time might have meant the difference of life for them. It is sad also to see them miss out on an opportunity to be saved because they don't have a ride to a rescue.
I have found that typically people like to help make things better and that helps them to feel that they are making a positive difference. It doesn't change just because one retires. In fact, having the time to examine all the needs in the world tends to make me want to speed up everything I do so that I can get more done.
Volunteering at the shelter was not an option for me as I did not have the heart to walk a dog, play with him, and give him a treat, knowing it was probably the last treat he would ever get.
I chose to devote my time to keeping animals OUT of the shelter by educating people about alternative things to do. I do not really know if I am making a difference in the scheme of the world. But I do know I am making a difference for each animal whose life is saved because I helped.
If you are retired and reading this you need to make sure you have a plan in place for your pet. What would happen to your beloved companion if you were to suddenly die or have to go into a nursing home? I have seen so many instances of owner's death or hospitalization, or simply getting to a point they can no longer care for their pet. The pets go to the Shelter, and as they are considered owner surrender, they are killed. Your pet deserves more, so now, right now, put a plan in place.
If you love animals, work with a rescue group, give money to help get animals adopted and fixed, set up a facebook page for adoption (take pictures at your local shelter, write notes about the animals.. how long they have before they will be killed, where they were found, age, temperament, etc.) and put it out there for your local people to see. It will help animals get adopted.
You could also set up a FB page for lost and found animals in your area. You will be amazed at the reception. Maybe you could transport a dog to a neighboring town. You could foster for a week or so while transport for an animal is being figured out.
Find a couple of other folks who love animals to work with you. You can't do everything but you can be part of the solution because everything you do will be one thing that wasn't being done before. There may be a group already out there, waiting for your help.
Many blessings to you as you travel your path. May it be filled with what you need.