Are you thinking about getting a dog or cat? A rabbit or hamster? A horse? Please, do yourself, and one or more wonderful animals, a favor and check out your local animal shelter or rescue group.
Animal shelters & Humane Societies are often run by cities or counties, and will sometimes charge for their pets based on the animal’s age. Since older pets are usually harder to find homes for, you can sometimes get a ‘senior’ for little or no cost. Older pets are usually going to be more set in their ways & personality, and will normally be calmer in the long run than a puppy or kitten. They’ll certainly appreciate having a home again.
With a rescue group, you’re more likely to be dealing with individuals working to save a specific breed, or to rescue animals most likely to be put down. You might end up paying more, and there may be a screening process involving vet references & a home visit.
You can also do as we’ve done, and rescue stray, abandoned or feral (not socialized) animals from the streets. This can be hard work since you might be dealing with cats or dogs who’ve been on their own for a long time or have been abused. They might have had a home at one time, but lost the trust they had after their family dumped them, or people might have chased them away time after time.
It can take months, or even years, to build that trust up. I worked with a feral cat I called ‘Little Mister’ for over 5 years before he trusted me to touch him for just a few seconds.
We’re feeding some strays now, and just caught one last week & have her caged in the garage. She’s in quarantine right now because the initial test shows she has FIV (feline AIDS). We’ll know for sure this week. The progress this girl has made over the last month is incredible. She wants to be loved on. You put your hand in the cage with her, and she’ll rub on it & purr away. Fortunately she’s already been fixed, as have the other 2 we’re feeding.
Health issues are something critical when you’re working to rescue these little ones. FIV, FIP (feline infectious peritonitis) and FeLv (feline leukemia) are deadly to cats. Before you bring a cat in your house with others, be sure you’ve had them tested. FIV & FeLv positive cats can survive, but they need to be separate from other cats. We’ve lost a few of our rescues to health issues. Little Bear had intestinal parasites from drinking bad water (he was just a few months old), & Robin developed FIP after she was spayed. Our sickest kitty was Nala, who has a condition called hemobartonella- her blood doesn’t produce iron like it should. She required 2 transfusions in the first week we had her, and another one a few months later. We’re very lucky this little girl survived, but she’s a healthy, beautiful cat now.
No matter where you get your next furry, or scaly, friend, remember- it’s for life. Please don’t take a dog or cat or other pet in if you’re just going to dump them a few years later. Don’t let them roam around outside. Get them fixed (usually a requirement of shelter & rescue groups). And if something happens that you have to give them up, do everything you can to find them another home. Don’t just abandon them on the side of the road. Remember the rescue groups. Consider fostering if you can. And if for some reason you can’t have pets yourself, think about supporting a rescue group or Humane Society/Shelter. Cash, food, litter, old towels or newspapers, dog or cat toys & treats are often appreciated. Call & ask what they can use!