August 19 th was National Homeless Animals Day.  I know I’m a little late but I wanted to share some tips to help you play your part to help out homeless animals.

The Human Society of the United States estimates that between six and eight million cats and dogs enter shelters annually.  That number grows exponentially during times of distress.  Everyone can remember the sad faces of lost and homeless pets during Hurricane Katrina however each year national disasters such as the tremendous flooding in the Midwest this year, cause the number of homeless cats and dogs to spike.

Homeowners simply don’t have a place to go or a way to care for their beloved pets.  This is much the case for people who’ve had their homes foreclosed on too.  When most rental homes and apartments don’t allow pets, the large and growing number of foreclosures nationwide has caused homeless pets to become an epidemic.

With almost half of the animals who enter shelters each year being euthanized, that’s four million cats and dogs annually, something must be done.

What can you do to stop the epidemic?

First and foremost if you or someone you know is looking for a pet, consider adopting from a shelter.  The benefits, beyond saving a life, are paramount.  Adopted animals come with a full veterinary check.  Adopted animals are quite often mixed breeds which tend to be significantly healthier than pure bred dogs and cats.

When you adopt an animal from a shelter you know what you’re getting.  Shelter animals are evaluated for personality traits and temper.  If you have small children or other animals in your home a shelter employee can tell you which animals would best meet your current lifestyle.

Additionally if your heart is set on a purebred dog or cat, check with your local rescue society.  There is a rescue organization for just about every dog or cat breed available.  They’re always in need of happy homes for their rescues.

But there’s more you can do if you don’t have room to adopt!

If you currently own animals have them spade or neutered to help prevent overpopulation.

Donate to your local animal shelter so they have more time to adopt our their animals rather than euthanize them.  You don’t have to donate just money, many animal shelters are in drastic need of pet food, kitty litter, toys, bedding and medications.  If you have the ability to donate any of these items check with your local shelter and find out what you can do.

If money is tight and donating just isn’t going to happen, consider volunteering your time.  Even a couple hours a week is a tremendous help.  Your time can be spent not only helping to care for the animals in the shelter but also on awareness campaigns and fundraising efforts.

Have your pets micro chipped so that if they do get away from you, you’ll be able to find them and they’ll stay out of overcrowded shelters.

Our pets are our responsibility however when disaster strikes and we can no longer take care of them it’s up to us as a society to do what we can to ensure these animals get a fair shake.  Adoption, having your pet spayed or neutered, and giving your time to the organizations which are at their capacity trying to help these small creatures will help curb this sad and growing problem.