Do a quick Google search for the words “overcrowding, economy” and “animal shelter” and you’ll see what I mean. Across the country people from all walks of life have fallen on hard times...and by association, so have their pets in some cases.
Like I said it’s a national problem, but one that affects us here in Madison County as well. For my article in the February 9 edition of the Madison County Record, I interviewed Caren Sharp. She works at the Madison County Animal Shelter and she’s also a part time animal control officer for the city of Huntsville. She tells me that finding a stray alongside the road was never all that uncommon, but now she’s seeing a lot more of it.
Caren attributes the upsurge to the troubled economy. Pet owners surrendering their pets isn’t a new phenomenon, but the reason for surrender has more and more commonly become that the family just can’t afford the extra mouth.
I recently covered a small story about the St. Paul library, where I met Bonnie Rodgers. She also volunteers at the Madison County Animal Shelter. She tells me the shelter often waived the nominal fee to surrender an animal if it was being handed over by a good Samaritan who simply found the pet wandering around. Not surprisingly as the economy tanked, more good Samaritans were “finding” the animals they were surrendering to the shelter.
That comes at a cost to the shelter; that then has to feed, house and provide veterinary care for the animal. Factor that with the fact that the shelter is small and can only hold very few at a time and you’ve landed yourself smack dab in the middle of one of those terribly sad commercials with Sarah McLachlan playing in the back of your head. If you don’t get that last reference, I envy you. Those Humane Society commercials haunt my TV viewing pleasure nightly.
If you can’t tell, I’m about to go Bob Barker on you. It won’t end the problem, but it will make a difference. Spay or neuter your pets. If they could weigh in on the subject your pets would probably tell you to skip it, but then again they don’t have to watch those depressing commercials.
There are discounted spay and neuter programs available that can make the process a little easier on your wallet. Madison County doesn't have one, but you can search the web for special programs or you can just get in touch with these good people.
If you've spayed or neutered your pet already or don't have a pet at all. A great way to help out would be to head down to the pet shelter and adopt. It's not a pleasant subject, but the bottom line is - the more animals that are adopted, the fewer shelter volunteers are forced to put to sleep. I worked in a veterinary office in college. Euthanizing animals is awful and really takes a toll on the folks that have to do it.
I know not everyone can adopt a new pet, but that doesn't mean you can't still help out. If you've read this far then you probably have some interest in lending a hand to the good men and women of the Madison County Pet Shelter. If that's the case, below I've included a wish list compiled by the shelter.
Towels for bedding (no blankets)
Canned/Dry kitten food
Pet Foster Volunteers
Yard work outside the dog area
Canned/Dry dog food
One last thing the shelter could use that could truly make a difference - grant writers. Writing a grant is a bit of a difficult process and the shelter would love to get in contact with someone who can help them write and apply for various grants. If you're that person, I know they'd love to hear from you. Here is their number....479-738-1505.
Finally, I couldn't write this entire article followed by a blog about the same subject without doing my part. It only took one visit to the shelter before I made the easy decision to bring this little girl home.
I'm not sure what to name her yet. Any suggestions?