Every day, more than 9,000 pets are unnecessarily killed in America’s shelters simply because they don’t have a home – that’s 4 million per year. From playful kittens full of love, to healthy senior dogs “dumped” because of age, each one with a heartbeat, a life, left to die alone – without a second chance.
Due to limited shelter space and the high volume of homeless pets, shelters are force to kill – in order to make room for the next.
On September 22, 2012, one of the largest nation-wide fund-raisers, Strut Your Mutt, hosted by Best Friends Animal Society, took place in Los Angeles as an effort to create a city that will one day be a ‘no kill’ Los Angeles (@NKLA).
With 35 local Los Angeles animal rescue groups participating, along with their networks of volunteers, celebrities, individuals joining the cause, pets and foster dogs, more than $390,500 was raised – exceeding their goal of $350,000. On a nationwide level, with all of the Strut Your Mutt events combined, close to $1.3 million was raised – exceeding the national goal of $1 million.
“The great thing is that the participating animal rescue groups keep all of the money raised. That’s a lot of money going to homeless pets,” states Best Friends Communications Manager, Phiphi Gavalas.
The money raised allows the local animal rescue groups to rescue more animals from shelters, pay for spay/neuter services, medications, food and other supplies.
Perhaps the best display of hope and a second chance of life were shown through the eyes of a handicapped German Shepherd – walking for the cause – strapped to a wheelchair. With a donation bucket attached to the wheelchair, the poster dog for his rescue pack, Jari the senior shepherd, showed no signs of giving up.
After being dropped off at the shelter by his former family for simply being “too old”, Jari’s second chance of life began when Coastal German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County, decided to rescue.
During his time at the shelter, he developed pneumonia. After two long weeks at the vet, Jari developed muscle atrophy in his back legs, causing him to have a hard time walking. He was diagnosed with a spinal disease and would require physical therapy to keep his back legs moving.
Volunteer, Gary Macheske, agreed to foster Jari after going through a similar situation with his own dog. His heart opened up just a little more than he knew possible when he welcomed Jari into his home. Having been through a similar situation, Macheske had just the right tools needed to rehabilitate – a wheelchair for dogs.
“The good thing about the wheelchair is that he can do what he would naturally do and is used to doing,” says Macheske. This is an affordable option that many people simply do not know about. “Even though his body may not be able to do the things he did at one time, his mind is 100 percent.”
Through this experience, Macheske is constantly reminded of why he loves rescue and loves to care for animals in need. “There’s something about giving more of yourself – and when you have a special needs dog, and how they depend on you – this is rewarding.”
According to Best Friends, the biggest contributor to the current homeless pets problem in the U.S. is not enough people getting their pets spayed or neutered. While there are other issues that contribute to this problem, the truth is that many dogs and cats are born as accidents – as many as 50 percent. Many wind up in shelters, only to be killed to make room for more homeless pets.
It’s hopeful to know that other cities have been able to become 100% “no kill” – like San Francisco. It takes the effort of the whole community, but it can be done.
Gavalas says, “The best way to end the killing is to stop animals from going to shelters and rescuing the ones who are currently there.”
Every American can help in a number of ways. Here’s a list of the top ways you can help:
Adoption from shelters, not breeders or puppy mills
Word of mouth
For those that want to help but can’t open up your wallet or home right now, social media is the best tool to network homeless pets. It’s free and truly makes a difference when it comes to spreading the word and getting others involved.
If you’re interested in reading more about Jari’s story or giving him his forever home, please visit Coastal German Shepherd Rescue.