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National Museum of Animals & Society Blog
October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month! Approximately 6 million animals enter into a shelter every year, and 60% of dogs in shelters are euthanized due to being unable to find good homes. This month, consider the joy you can bring to man’s best friend by becoming his new best friend. These dogs have not done anything wrong, they are animals who have been abandoned by their former families or never given a chance. According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), 25% of these dogs are purebred, and nearly half of them were once companions.
Now is a great time to think about adding to your family. Dogs are a wonderful addition, being loyal, protective, and providing both a natural alarm system (useful for those who live in cities) and unending friendship. There are dogs of all personalities available in the local shelter. A quick search on the ASPCA website tells me of over 2000 available dogs within 25 miles of my hometown.
Consider Poochini, a poodle and bichon frise mix who was brought into the Sparky and the Gang animal shelter with an injured leg. Who could resist that adorable face? He’s a child friendly and cat friendly, a little dog good for families.
Or maybe Jozette from Southern California Golden Retriever Rescue suits your home best. Ending up in the shelter as a stray, Jozee learned how to use the doggy door on her first day in foster care. She’s good on a leash, in the car, and even loves to swim! This beautiful dog- and cat-friendly girl is looking for a home where she will get the love and attention she deserves.
Or perhaps open your heart to Joey at Dharma Rescue for Cats and Dogs. He is a good-natured terrier mix who was paralyzed by a terrible car accident, but is now equipped with a doggy wheelchair. A pet with special needs is a big commitment of course, but no less deserving of love. Who couldn’t adore this sweet mutt?
These are just a few examples from local shelters. On the ASPCA website you can find them and thousands of others in your area by searching your zip code.
Adopting a dog is a truly rewarding experience that will benefit both you and your new pooch. This October, consider making the commitment. It will be worth it for both of you!
This past Sunday, September 25th, was International Rabbit Day, an annual holiday celebrating the joy of bunnies, and also bringing attention and awareness to the many problems both wild and domestic rabbits face. Rabbits are the third most common creature in animal shelters after dogs and cats, yet it’s amazing how little-understood they still are. This is partially due to the fact that, unlike dogs and cats, rabbits are prey animals, the ones who are hunted instead of doing the hunting in the wild, and therefore have a completely different way of looking at the world than do our more common omnivorous companion animals.
Furthermore, there are a number of misconceptions about rabbits that still linger from our past treatment and interaction with them, despite more modern and correct knowledge that has recently come to light. Many people believe rabbits are good pets for children because they require low maintenance, prefer to reside outdoors in hutches, and don’t live very long. On the contrary: rabbits are fragile beings with complex social, medical, and dietary needs; they are incredibly vulnerable to temperature changes and wild predators, making it much safer to keep them indoors; and they have an average lifespan of 10-12 years. Rabbits are a long-term commitment, and no living thing should be taken in merely to provide a “lesson” to a young child who may not be ready for such a responsibility, leaving the animal to suffer.
Many cities still classify rabbits as farm animals, and therefore regulate their care and keeping differently than they do for dogs and cats. Still other places regard rabbits as “exotic” pets, making it hard to find a rabbit-savvy veterinarian. This can make keeping a rabbit difficult, as they do require regular medical care just like other companion animals, sometimes even more so. Their teeth and nails need regular trimming if they don’t have suitable surfaces to chew and dig, and they are very vulnerable to a condition known as gastrointestinal stasis, where their digestive systems spontaneously stop working and emergency care must be provided. People keeping a single rabbit may not see the necessity of having their animal spayed or neutered, but besides the obvious benefits of eliminating the threat of bunny overpopulation – the phrase “breed like rabbits” doesn’t just come out of thin air – there are a lot of other health and behavioral benefits to spaying and neutering as well. Female rabbits are especially vulnerable to reproductive cancers, and will have a drastically reduced lifespan if not spayed. Because rabbits are territorial animals, males can have extreme and often intolerable problems with aggression, destructiveness, and sanitation unless they are neutered.
Rabbits may sound like difficult pets, but they are definitely worth the effort. Like dogs and cats, some rabbits will bond with their human companions and become affectionate, playful, and can even be taught to do tricks. Some rabbits, however, will simply always prefer the company of other rabbits and want little or nothing to do with humans; each bunny’s personality is unique and shaped by their genetics and experiences. The good news, though, is that most rabbits take very well to litter box training. You read that right! If given a box of hay lined with newspaper, most rabbits will instinctively know to urinate in one side of the box and eat from the other. Feces, however, are another story, and even the best rabbits will leave pellets around the house as a territorial marker; fortunately these are dry and odorless, and can be swept or vacuumed up easily.
The House Rabbit Society, founded in 1988, advocates for companion rabbits to be kept indoors as free-range pets, just like dogs and cats. Their website is the most complete resource for companion rabbit information on the Internet. You might also be interested in visiting The Language of Lagomorphs, a remarkable compendium of rabbit quirks and behaviors and what they are meant to communicate – as well as how you can communicate back!
Petfinder, the online searchable database of animals in need of homes, has declared the week of September 17-25 to be Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week. Animals usually considered “less adoptable” include senior pets, cats tested positive for FIV, large or “aggressive breed” dogs such as pit bulls, white rabbits with pink eyes, and all animals with special needs or preexisting medical conditions. With most people interested in only adopting puppies or kittens, even adult animals that would be considered highly desirable in their younger days can languish in the shelter system or foster/rescue homes for months.
Consider Yogee, a spaniel/Border Collie mix with The Dawg Squad in Los Angeles. Found in Westchester with a microchip sourced to Highland Park, when his guardians were contacted they said that Yogee had been missing for so long that they assumed he was dead and had gotten another dog. They didn’t want Yogee back. At 12 years old, this sweet-tempered and cuddly boy still has a lot of love to give and deserves a family that will appreciate him.
Then there’s Buzz, a black domestic short hair not even a year old. Born with a deformed eye, Buzz watched all his brothers and sisters get adopted while he stayed behind, overlooked and unwanted. A playful people-lover, Buzz is waiting to find his forever home at A Cat’s Tale in Hawthorne.
Finally, there’s beautiful Erishkegal, a pink-eyed white rabbit with RabbitMatch in Los Angeles. Likely purchased at a pet store as a baby bunny, Erishkegal’s original guardians had no idea how to care for a rabbit and never bothered to clean her living space. As a result, Erishkegal’s feet, tail and belly are permanently stained orange from being forced to sit in her own urine.
All domestic animals – not just the superficially “cute” or purebred ones – deserve a chance to find love. Check out Petfinder’s gallery of “less adoptables,” submitted by the rescue groups who care for them, for even more unfortunate stories of sweet animals in need of forever homes.
Freekibble.com, the website which rewards users for answering fun and simple trivia questions by donating pet food to homeless dogs and cats, is today contributing all of their proceeds to help pets in Vermont and North Carolina displaced by Hurricane Irene. The best part is, you don’t even have to answer the trivia question correctly to have ten pieces of kibble donated on your behalf!
Freekibble was launched in 2008 by an 11-year-old girl in Bend, OR, by the name of Mimi Ausland. Freekibble’s primary goal is “to provide healthy, nutritious food to the dogs and cats at shelters who are working so hard to see that none of their animals go hungry.” Anyone who has worked or volunteered for a city shelter knows how dire things can get when the city’s budget cannot meet the animals’ needs. Through Freekibble’s partnership with sponsor Halo, their website now helps to feed thousands of animals in shelters, rescues and food banks across the country. Since its inception in April of 2008, 619,029,020 pieces of kibble have been donated! (Probably more by the time you read this.)
When Hurricane Irene swept through the eastern United States at the end of August, it left a trail of devastation in its wake. Parts of Vermont are still dealing with the aftermath of extreme flooding, and over 11,000 people in North Carolina have registered for federal assistance, with a current estimate of $400 million worth of damage done in that state alone. Read more about what the Central Vermont Humane Society, a beneficiary of today’s Freekibble donations, are doing to help the four-legged victims of this natural catastrophe.
Give Freekibble a click today to help support animal welfare, the ingenuity and generosity of kids like Mimi Ausland, and the pets and people displaced by Hurricane Irene. It’s an easy and painless way to make a difference and show your support.