Rescue volunteers are those who love animals more than they love themselves, who will stay up all night with sick dogs or to bottle feed newborn pups or kittens. Rescue volunteers are the “voice” for abused, abandoned, and neglected animals. Rescue volunteers give up all their free time saving lives, begging for money for vet bills, and trying to educate the public on responsible pet ownership. The balance of responsibility needs to tip back toward pet owners, and rescue volunteers/shelter workers are often too exhausted to tell you what I am going to tell you on their behalf because I was a rescue volunteer for 12 years.
So, here is a plea from all those rescue volunteers:
• If you pick up a stray and don’t know what to do with it, read the article here on what to do to find the dog’s owner or a safe place for the dog: "If you find a stray dog, take these important steps to return dog to owner"
• If you lose your dog, read this article FIRST, do what it says, THEN contact rescue volunteers to help you network and share your dog’s info: "How to find your lost dog fast"
• If you want to give up your own dog(s), rescue volunteers want you to first be as responsible and compassionate as possible and try to find a new home for your dog BY YOURSELF. Yes, you are responsible for that living creature’s fate, so how will you respect that responsibility? Ask your responsible pet-owning friends and family if they can take in the dog as their own. Do NOT try to give away your dogs on Craig’s List or in the Classifieds…they will be at high risk for being abused or used as puppy mill breeding dogs by evil humans. If your dog is not fixed, do not give it away without getting the dog fixed (get low cost spay/neuter voucher through www.spayusa.org). Wow! Rescue volunteers sure are asking you to do a lot right? Well, many dog owners do not realize that rescue groups have to do these things on a daily basis for multiple dogs. Don’t take their rescue work for granted and assume it is “their job” and not “yours”. Rescue volunteers are all volunteers and do NOT get paid to do rescue and rehabilitation of the gentle souls they rescue.
• If you cannot, or refuse to do, the things above on your own, only then should you contact a local rescue group such as Lake Area Partnership for Animal Welfare (LAPAW), 4 Paws Society, or Lake Charles Pit Bull Rescue (pit bulls only). Or if your dog is a pure bred, you can “Google Search” for a breed specific rescue group. For example, search for “Poodle Rescue Groups” if you are giving up a poodle. Keep in mind that ALL local rescue groups are overflowing with dogs and they are not like the animal shelter where you can just dump your dog and walk away. It takes time for the group to reach out to their volunteers and foster homes to see if they can find room to take in your dog. This sometimes takes several days or even weeks, and sometimes the answer may just be “no, sorry, we have no room”. So, be patient and respectful and be honest about all of your dog’s personality or behavior traits when surrendering your dog to a rescue group. There’s no reason to lie and they need to know everything so they can find the right home for your dog. Also, before surrendering your dog to a rescue group or giving it away, go to your veterinarian’s office and get the dog’s full vet record printed out for you to pass on to rescue. This only takes a minute at most veterinary offices so don’t forget. Most importantly, if a rescue group agrees to take in your dog, make every effort to make a donation toward your dog’s vet care or spay/neuter costs. It’s the least you can do although some rescues do not require it.
• If all of this fails, keep trying! Don’t give up! Remember that your dog loves and completely depends on you way more than you realize, and the least you can do is live up to that devotion.
• Notice, I did NOT list “take your dog to your local shelter” because you should never get to that point. Our local shelter does the best it can to manage the thousands of animals that come through its doors every year and even offer programs to help pet owners get low cost spay/neuter, low cost rabies vaccinations, and low cost microchipping (see contact info at end of article). Shelters are where dogs are forgotten and often get put to sleep because there are more dogs than adopters. Shelters are where dogs get scared and don’t act like they normally would and may be seen as “unadoptable”. Shelters are unavoidably where dogs get contagious diseases, which might then make them unadoptable. Shelters are where “senior” dogs are often unadoptable because nobody goes into a shelter looking to adopt an “old dog”. Shelters are where, if you have never taken your dog to a vet and he is ill, he is automatically seen as unadoptable because shelters do not have financial resources to treat sick dogs. In a kill shelter, “unadoptable” equals “death”. Rest assured, there are no shelter workers who enjoy this fact, nor do they enjoy seeing you walking in with your dog to surrender it because you just can’t take care of it anymore. The employees at shelters are animal lovers too! Why do you think they work there? Calcasieu Parish Animal Services has an adoption program and the employees work very hard to find homes for as many dogs and cats as possible, but they are often sad to see a dog remain at the shelter for months, never getting a second look from adopters. They do not want your dog added to the thousands they have already picked up off the streets. Taking your dog to the shelter is an option for you if you CHOOSE to take the easy way of “getting rid of” your dog. By the way, animal rescuers and shelters hate the phrase “I have a dog I need to get rid of” like it’s a piece of junk that’s in your way.
• Last option you should consider: Do NOT get a dog in the first place if you cannot commit to caring for and loving it for its entire life. Small dogs often live into their upper teens and Large dogs can live up to 10 years or more as well. Do NOT get a dog if you cannot afford yearly vaccines, monthly heartworm and flea prevention, or the cost for illness or injuries. Do NOT get a dog without knowing how to care for one and meet its mental and physical need to play and exercise.
• If you choose to add a dog to your family… choose ADOPTION FIRST! Do not buy from breeders or pet stores that sell puppies. Most of those puppies come from inhumane environments for the breeding dogs. (Google Search: “puppy mills” to learn more) Don’t get a puppy if you are not willing to spend a lot of time potty training and behavior training.
While much of this article may seem too sharp, or too honest, it is long overdue. The Lake Area is in a pet overpopulation crisis. We need your help to reduce the pointless killing of unwanted pets. Spay and neuter your pets, no matter what! For low cost vouchers, contact Calcasieu Parish Animal Services or www.SpayUsa.org . Also, when you take in a dog, make it a lifetime commitment. If you have no option but to let go of your dog, please follow the steps above.
Lake Charles Area Rescue Groups/Shelters:
4 Paws Society (337) 287-3552 or 337-533-8212
LaPaw 337-478-7294 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Lake Charles Pit Bull Rescue is on Facebook or call: 713-854-1895 or 337-802-6729 Calcasieu Parish Animal Services 337-721-3730