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This post is about how to help abandoned animals and how to help stop animal abandonment. It’s something I feel especially passionate about. It might have something to do with the number of animals I personally own. And maybe even how much I love animals and have always loved them.
But regardless, I think it’s important. Because I’ve heard of at least 4 separate kittens, all under 5 weeks old, who’ve been rescued recently. (Including the one we now have as of 5 weeks ago.) All of the kittens I’ve heard about were found either in the middle of the road or under bridges on the highway. Which means they were most likely thrown out of moving vehicles. At least the ones found on the highways were.
HOW TO DETERMINE IF AN ANIMAL IS ABANDONED
First, let’s go over how to know if an animal you’ve found is actually abandoned. How do you recognize animal abandonment and cruelty? Well, in the cases of the 4 kittens I listed above, it was easy to identify. The kittens were all without their mothers, too young to be on their own, and in the middle of the road or highways.
However, if the animal or animals are still living in a home or a yard, most animal abandonment or cruelty, is in the manner of neglect. Though, other things to look out for includes
- Animal negligence, which is a lack of veterinary care, food and water, and/or shelter. A pet might have open wounds and appear malnourished.
- Also, you might witness direct acts of abuse against an animal. Such as the owner throws objects or strikes their pet in any way that is violent.
- Or hoarding–there are too many animals on the property for the owner to properly take care of them all.
- Chained or tethered animals. Animals that are tethered or chained non-stop experience a lot of pain and isolation. And if they don’t have adequate shelter, they’re subjected to all of the hazards of the weather and predators. They could also get infections around the chains or tethers.
- And finally, animals abandoned by their owners. The homeowners left or vacated their house, leaving behind their pets. You might hear meowing or howling, indicating animals have been left behind.
HOW TO HELP ABANDONED OR ORPHANED ANIMALS
Hopefully you’ll never see any of the above things in your neighborhood. But if you were to observe any or all of them, for the most part, you have the law on your side, since every state has laws prohibiting animal abuse. So, if you know of animals or have seen animals abandoned by their owners or neglected, call animal control. Although, if you live somewhere that doesn’t have animal control, like me, then contact the humane society on this page.
HOW TO HELP AN ANIMAL YOU FOUND
Now, let’s discuss what to do if you find a stray kitten or dog on the road. Or in your yard.
- Try using food to coax the animal to you.
- And for securing a dog, you need a leash. Or something similar.
- But since cats typically don’t like being held, you should have a crate or a pet carrier.
Don’t put yourself in unnecessary danger. Older cats, especially if they’ve been on their own for a while, could be feral. So, be cautious and alert.
WARNING: If the animal runs off, appears ill, foaming at the mouth, or is showing signs of aggression, call animal control. And give them the street address where the animal was seen last. And don’t go near the animal.
- Once you have the animal secured, check for a pet ID tag. If the animal is wearing a tag, contact the owner, so they can be reunited.
However, if you can’t reach the owner, or have to leave a message, file a found report with your local animal shelter. This is in case the owner goes there to look for their pet.
- The pet might have a microchip and, if taken to an animal shelter, could get scanned there. And then it would quickly be reunited with its owner.
If you live somewhere that doesn’t have an animal shelter, consider taking the dog or cat to a local vet. The veterinarian would then be able to scan the animal for a microchip.
- Finally, post fliers with the animal’s picture, description, and where you found it. You can also look up info and place ads on Craigslist, Nextdoor, and Petfinder about the animal.
WHAT TO DO IF NO ONE CLAIMS THE ABANDONED ANIMAL
Supposing you live in a rural area and don’t have animal control or even an animal shelter, you might decide to just keep the cat or dog. And even after all of your other efforts and still no one has collected it, these are the steps to take.
- If you already have your own pets, keep the stray cat or dog quarantined. It could have worms, illnesses, fleas, or ticks. Not to mention, it and your current pets would have to meet over a period of time to get used to each other.
It’s generally not a good idea to just throw a new pet into your mix of current pets. It’s stressful to both sets of animals. Which produces fear in cats and possibly urinary tract infections.
Until you get the stray dog or cat seen by a veterinarian, be sure to wash your hands each time you handle it.
- Next, make sure you inform people in your neighborhood about finding a lost or stray animal. And post fliers.
The law favors the owner if you fail to do this. There’s a holding period for strays that varies by state before anyone else can own that pet. Also, it could be difficult on the dog or cat, if years down the road, they get uprooted to go back to their original owners for your failure to tell people and post the required info.
- After covering your bases, make a veterinary appointment for the animal, if you haven’t already. Get it seen and make sure it’s healthy. It might need vaccines or de-worming.
Sometimes this step is in conjunction with the step above. If the pet is staying in an animal shelter, you might have to provide veterinary care until you can own it. But if you don’t have an animal shelter where you live, there’s more leeway. However, there’s still a time-frame before you can legally own someone else’s pet. Especially if you haven’t made any attempts to reunite them.
- And provide the appropriate food for your new pet, along with clean fresh water, and bedding. If your new pet is a cat, provide a litter box as well.
A COUPLE OF FACTS ABOUT ANIMAL ABANDONMENT
Somewhere ~ 1.5 million healthy cats and dogs are euthanized each year in the United States. And statistics from animal shelters last year (2020) indicate that ~70 million strays are living on the streets at any moment. However, just ~6.5 million, cats and dogs combined, enter shelters. While the rest survive the best they can, some suffer heat exhaustion in the summer. And others freeze during winter.
U.S. citizens pay ~$2 billion annually for the cost of maintaining animal shelters. While pet owners make up ~30% of the animals left behind in those shelters. And only approximately 10% of the animals in shelters are spayed or neutered.
So one of the primary ways you can help stop animal abandonment is to spay or neuter your pet, if you have one. Pets that aren’t spayed or neutered quickly overpopulate shelters. And also the streets.
HOW TO HELP STOP ANIMAL ABANDONMENT
In addition to fixing your pets, you can also
- Be an advocate for lost pets. Rather than dropping that lost animal you found off at animal control, try locating the owner first.
- Avoid buying animals from pet stores and puppy mills. Instead, adopt a pet!
~ 3.2 million cats and dogs are adopted from shelters each year. And during the Pandemic we just experienced, adoptions for dogs were on the rise. However, on average, the Covid-19 pandemic affected pet adoptions last year. And the percentage of adopted cats was rising until the pandemic occurred.
- Donate to a reputable animal rescue group. There are animal shelters, but there are also many different animal rescue groups.
They can cater to specific animals, types, breeds, etc. Helping these groups financially is necessary to keeping them operational. But also to provide veterinary care and other essentials for the animals.
- Another way you can help stop animal abandonment and help abandoned animals is to volunteer at a local animal shelter. Not only will you see firsthand the ins and outs of shelter-life for unwanted or stray animals. But you can spend time with them. And oftentimes help them not feel so lonely.
- Be a foster parent to a pet. Foster parents allow for less animals to be euthanized, which gives those pets more time to find permanent homes. Because, as a foster parent, your home is a temporary refuge for that pet as you help socialize and care for it.
- Speak up or report animal abuse and neglect.
- Lastly, be a responsible pet owner. Microchip your pets, update their tags, spay or neuter them, and only adopt another one if you’re in it for the long-haul.