A New Year has dawned us, shining with promise and hope. Let’s extend the new year good cheer to our furry friends as well. While there are dedicated groups of animal lovers and activists in every city, they are overwhelmed with the work they have to do, and many are severely short of funds and volunteers as well. Rescuing lost, abandoned and injured dogs can be draining – on one’s emotions, finances and time. But these compassionate souls are doing it on a daily basis, often with very little help from others. Every time I see a post on Facebook or Twitter about an abandoned or lost dog, my hearts hurts. Just looking at their sad, bewildered faces makes me want to weep. Some lucky ones find homes, while others languish in shelters.
So, what can each of us do to make the lives of these lonely dogs better? How can we help animal activists?
Adopt a dog: If you are planning to buy or get a dog, why don’t you visit an animal shelter in your city and adopt a homeless dog? Dogs don’t belong in shelters, they belong in homes. They want love. They want to be petted. They want to run around free. I have quoted this in an earlier article, but I would like to quote it again: “Saving one animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal.” You can find puppies and adult dogs at shelters; take your pick. Give one dog a home. If many people come forward to do that, so many homeless dogs will find homes…and love.
Join an animal activist group: Maybe you can’t keep a dog due to certain constraints. But you could still help them. Join an animal activist group in your city and volunteer your services. They always need volunteers. You could do it full-time or part-time. You could volunteer your services on weekends or every evening…choose a time that’s convenient to you.
Visit a shelter: If you don’t have the time to spare to volunteer regularly at a shelter, you could visit one every week. Puppies and dogs love human companionship. There’s nothing more heartening than to see a furry ball’s face light up when you pet him. Visiting a shelter will not only put a wag on a lonely dog’s tail, it will bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart too.
Foster: I know many friends who want to keep dogs but can’t because they don’t have help at home or they travel frequently on work, etc. But they long to have a dog in their home for short periods. There are others who are not ready yet to make a permanent commitment to having a dog. Shelters are overflowing with abandoned, injured and lost dogs and often they have no space to take in any more dogs. Also, some dogs don’t do well at shelters; they literally starve themselves to death. Pedigreed dogs are susceptible to picking up diseases at shelters and many die there. So, why don’t you offer to foster a dog till he goes to his forever home? I’ve fostered so many adult dogs and puppies and it’s such a wonderful, heart-warming experience. You not only get to do a good deed and generate positive karma, you also get to enjoy the sheer pleasure of having a loving dog or a frisky puppy as your companion for a few days.
Donate: If you can’t do any of the above, then open your purse strings generously. Shelters and animal activist groups are constantly in need of funds. They are always drowning under the sundry expenses – from upkeep of the shelters to salaries, medicines, veterinary bills, food and more. You could donate money or in-kind – buy dog food, basic medicines, bedding, collars, leashes, bowls…there are so many ways you can help to alleviate the financial crunch that these shelters face on a daily basis. Very often, people who rescue injured dogs have to take them to a vet for surgery. These surgeries are expensive, and the aftercare is costly too. They put up posts asking for donations directly to the veterinary hospital. You could contribute to that as well. Most of us are in a position where we can contribute money, so write out that cheque and make a difference to an unhappy doggie’s life.
Become a fan on social media: This is the easiest thing to do. Follow local animal shelters and groups on social media. This way you can cross-post any information they share and help them to reach a wider audience. You may think it’s an insignificant act, but it really does help. I had rescued a German Shepherd last year and posted his picture on Facebook. My friends cross-posted it and within two days, the owner’s friend saw the post and informed him. The next day, the happy owner and an equally happy doggie were reunited.
So, let us, make a pledge to help a doggie in need. Apart from the above, there are so many other ways you can choose to help. Open your heart. Dogs give us so much joy and love; let’s do something, however small, for them in return.