National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week
Every day, the commitment of shelter staff who work diligently to protect homeless animals and find them homes often goes unrecognized. As a way to show gratitude for how much their efforts mean for the betterment of animals, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recognizes the first full week of November as National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week.
There are millions of beloved pets who were given second chances and shown examples of love from animal shelter employees while they waited to be adopted. Although the main goal of animal shelters is to find animals in their care a family, they are also a helpful resource for their communities and are meeting places for people who share the same passion for making a difference. Shelters can also have close associations with police departments to help investigate cruelty and neglect cases; schools to educate children to care about animals; and veterinary offices to provide spay/neuter services to help reduce pet overpopulation. Shelters are also often the first place someone will contact if their pet gets lost.
Across the U.S., there are approximately 3,500 animal shelters. In these shelters, it is estimated that 6–8 million homeless animals are given a safe haven. Still, only about 20 percent of shelter animals are adopted. However, thanks to creative ideas of animal shelter staff and social media, there have been many instances of viral photos and videos of animals which have resulted in adoptions. Recent examples include Chester the Pit Bull, who was adopted after five years of living in a shelter; and Kala and Keira, two dogs who were photographed hugging hours before they were supposed to be euthanized.
National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week is a perfect opportunity for individuals, families and communities to familiarize themselves with their local shelter and shelter staff. If interested in adopting a pet, staff are the first people to talk to who can then introduce them to potential new furry friends. If adopting is not an option, people can always go to Facebook and “like” the shelter’s page. That way, not only do they get to stay up to date with news from the shelter, but can pass on information to someone who might possibly be interested in new arrivals. Volunteering is always an engaging way to show support to a local shelter or rescue, as well as donating supplies. Shelters need a variety of supplies including towels, sheets, toys, food, and other less obvious items, including laundry soap and bleach. Volunteers can involve more people by asking family, friends and colleagues if they have any extra pet supplies or are willing to give a monetary donation. And of course, don’t forget to actually say “THANKS!” to the shelter and rescue workers who work so hard to care for and find homes for homeless pets. If you have adopted a pet from them, consider sending them a thank-you note with a photo of your pet and an update on how they are doing with your family—or even post it on the shelter’s Facebook page.
Thanks to the efforts of shelter workers, rescues can carry on saving animals in need, and the option of adopting instead of shopping can continue to rise in popularity.