Letter: Be part of solution for unwanted animals

From: Ashleigh Kuhl

Greenwood, formerly of Bartholomew County

Pets are for life.

In the U.S. about 7 million animals enter shelters every year. In those shelters, 95 percent to 99 percent are healthy and treatable, yet about 40 percent are killed. What can we do to reduce how many animals are taken to shelters or euthanized? Start locally.

Learn about your local animal welfare groups: shelters, rescues, advocacy programs. Don’t just ask what they do, but see for yourself and build relationships with those entities. Without doing so, there is no way to see what really goes on behind the scenes. Check reputable resources, see how they represent themselves and personally get involved in the community. Don’t just donate to groups because you like the idea of what they do. Learn their policies, their people and their animals. Look into their statistics. See how their animals are treated and how decisions are made. Offer your time and energy; be part of the solution.

Too many animals are abandoned on the streets or surrendered when they’re inconvenient. These animals can’t help themselves. It’s our responsibility as humans to make sure they’re taken care of and spayed/neutered so they don’t add to the overpopulation. Educate yourself on animal welfare and don’t wait around for someone else to make a change. Do something, not only because we need to if we’re going to make the world a better place for animals, but because it’s just the right thing to do.

Together, let’s do better. Let’s be compassionate. If you see a stray on the street, don’t keep driving. If you have an overwhelming number of pets that you can’t care for, ask for help. If your pet is having behavioral issues, train them. If you’re moving somewhere that you can’t take your pets, find another place. Pets should be treated as part of our families and not something that can be discarded. If we can all take a little more responsibility for the animals in our lives, we can make positive changes for all humans and animals involved. When you have/get a pet, have realistic expectations on what that animal will need for its entire lifetime, financially, emotionally and physically. That way you can be prepared to adapt as you’re growing together instead of being forced to send that beloved family member away.

Along with what you can do on your own at home and in your neighborhood, urge animal organizations to be proactive in finding homes for their animals and offering affordable spay/neuter options to reduce the number of animals adding to the population. Small changes go a long way. There are many online resources for organizations to make constructive changes, like saving90.org. The answers are out there. We just have to care enough to look for them. Animals need our help. People need our help. Let’s be productive and work together.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

Editor’s note: Due to technical problems, only a portion of this letter published on the Opinion page of Sunday’s edition of The Republic.