Animal shelters across the country are filled to capacity and many more have been left to fend for themselves out on the streets because people do not want to pay the surrender fee or answer any questions about why they are giving up their pet. A lot can’t afford them any longer due to the economy, but many more just lose interest or never realized what a serious responsibility it is to own a pet.
Whatever the reason, as the winter months approach in the Northern hemisphere, it is time to start thinking about the best ways to help animals who are exposed to the elements. Winter poses a certain set of challenges, and even more important than food is a good supply of water. It can freeze in bowls in colder temperatures and cause injury to the dog or cat who tries to lick it to get a drink.
Antifreeze around the home and out on the street, for cars and for defrosting sidewalks, can be lethal to pets. The main ingredient, propylene glycol, tastes sweet to them but it can cause their kidneys to stop working and also cause terrible burns to the mouth and esophagus.
Another problem at this time of year is that the shelters often struggle to stay staffed due to budget cuts and holiday timetables. Everyone wants to spend time with their family during the holidays, but animals with no homes are the ones who will suffer most.
The shelters also suffer from a lack of donations as people find the holidays stretch their budgets and charitable contributions don’t seem to top the list of essentials for Christmas.
If you are concerned about how animals are going to survive this winter, consider:
+setting up a sheltered area around your home, with fresh water changed at least a couple of times a day/checked to see that it has not frozen
+put out dry food-it will not freeze
+put out bird seed
+donate items in kind – some large charities will be able to accept old cars and so on
+organize a fundraiser and winter dangers awareness campaign
* Cat food
* Dog food
* Food bowls
* Bedding for cats and dogs
* bedding for rodents
* Leashes, collars, and harnesses
* Unused dog and cat toys
You can also promote a rescue group or shelter via Facebook and other social media.
If you have stray animals around your home, get involved with Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) programs to cut down on the pet population.
Finally, you can make adoption your first option. There are so many great cats and dogs being killed every day because people are not adopting them. Who knows, your next best friend could be waiting for you right now-but you will never know if you don’t check the shelters to see what poor pets they have available.
How to Keep Your Pets Safe in Summer and Warm Weather (for those of you living in the Southern Hemisphere