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How YOU Can Help Stray And Abandoned Animals

Alternatively titled: So You Think You May Want To Start A Rescue: Insane, Compassionate, or Both?

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This is the greatest dog I’ve ever known- Max Moo. In this photo with Sprog 2, she was 8 years old. She passed last year at age 15.

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Annnd this is my turdy hot mess, Stella- or Moo Dog. She’s hanging out with The Fish while he and I got hit with a rather nasty cold that was going around. Max Moo came to our lives by way of the Sedalia Animal Shelter, and Moo Dog was a backyard breeder snag. (BYBs are another rant for another time. Believe me, I’ve got one.) Max Moo’s former owner had gone into a home, and her relatives felt that she was “too old”, which is quite possibly one of the most awful reasons to take a dog to a shelter, ever. (ANOTHER rant.)

One of my earliest childhood memories is of being involved in rescue. My father helped a friend’s mother- who was quite honestly, an elderly hoarder. This happens a lot. Dad helped her work on her property, transforming what could have been an abysmal situation into a beneficial thing: but this is most definitely not always the case. Each week, I see yet another case of a VERY well meaning person with a big heart- had loads of animals, either the situation got out of control or they sadly, passed- leaving often times, dozens of animals with no home and nowhere to go. Onda was like that, but fortunately, she did end up hanging out with my Dad, who helped her. She had goats, sheep, dogs and cats. I remember it very fondly, especially Foxy and Katie-Did. (So named because whenever something happened, “Katie Did It.”) Though yes, many of the dogs and cats still lived in the main house, Dad helped build pens and runs, appropriate fencing, and he turned things around- most people in Onda’s situation do not have the benefit of someone stepping in to help with that: and ultimately, it ends up being to the animals’ detriment. The vet’s office where Dad worked also helped find homes for strays, and well, it didn’t shock anyone at all when Little Holly started taming feral cats and coming home with animals of all types.

As a teenager, I got involved with several animal rights organizations, volunteered in countless shelters, and this carried over into my adult life. While generally, I will say “I’m learning, too!” of most things: This is one area I won’t. This is one area, I actually know what I’m talking about.

Obviously, the first way you can help stray and abandoned animals is: GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. GET YOUR OWN PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED.

…did I make that point clear?

…But what else can you do? Are you thinking of being a rescue? Well. Let’s talk about that.

If you have the time, but not the resources:

DON’T.

If you have the resources but not the time: DON’T.

If you cannot take the time to make sure that an animal is a good fit in a FOREVER home: YOU DO NOT HAVE THE TIME. If you cannot take the time to send over vet records, follow up on those animals: YOU DO NOT HAVE THE TIME. If you cannot work with a shy, scared animal that has been abused: YOU DO NOT HAVE THE TIME.
Don’t feel bad- most rescues and shelters have a similar time crunch, but they still do both of those things. It isn’t easy.

If you do not have a good foster network, the funds, or means of obtaining funds (ie: rehoming fees, adoption fees, donations) in order to house them until they are rescued: YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RESOURCES.

If you have the time, but not the resources- become a volunteer. If you have the resources, but not the time: fund spay and neuter efforts, fund your local rescues, and help out in that way.

Again, do not feel badly- this is a hard part of being a rescue.

There are many, many ways you can still help these animals.

The first is: if you think rescues suck because they charge too much or ask too many questions- get your head out of your butt. If you’re running around making a villain of rescues and shelters- again: get your head out of your butt.

Both of these exist for a reason, and do what they do, the way that they do it for reasons you obviously do not get. The reason they exist is stupid, irresponsible people. There are many reasons they do what they do- and as to rescues and their pesky, pesky questions: they’re trying to make sure those animals get forever homes, not just home hop or wind up back on the street or in another shelter. Why So Many Questions, by Last Resort Rescue covers that nicely. Put the blame where it belongs- ON THE BAD PEOPLE WHO MAKE THIS A PROBLEM.

And, further, if you’re still bad mouthing shelters- go volunteer in one for a week. Every time I see someone do it, my first thought is, “There’s an idiot who will in all likelihood, end up putting more animals on the street and in the shelter than saving them.” Why? Because you’ve got no idea what laws, restrictions, and otherwise those rescues and shelters deal with. You’ve got no idea what goes on, and why they have to do what they do. Until you do- you remain willfully ignorant. I personally believe that anyone who intends to get involved in rescue in ANY capacity needs to first- volunteer for a while at a kill shelter. That’s the worst of the worst, and trial by fire. You need that experience. You need to see not only what they deal with, but what you’re in for- even if you plan to be no-kill. You need to see the interactions with people who dump animals, and people who adopt them. You need to see how corrupt veterinarians will often put a strangle hold on a shelter for donations and care. How they have to deal with local laws. Many, many things. Then, network with other rescues and shelters. Then, foster. THEN, if you still want to be a rescue- and you have the time and resources- go for it.

But if you don’t….

How You Interact On Facebook Matters

I recently stopped letting Sprog 2 promote a “rescue group”.
He promotes a local one, now. He helps a local one, now. Why?
Because he was spreading the word about many, many cats needing homes. He felt it in his heart and I encourage that. (He’s got issues with selfishness, so when he is unselfish- I am going to encourage this, BIG TIME.) Every time he did, someone left a nasty message about how “we”- meaning Midwest Punk Rock Homestead should adopt the animals, instead of commenting on them.

1. Did you know that any time someone comments on your photos of strays- Facebook sees that photo as more relevant and it goes into more people’s feed? Yes, it does. So, any time you get anyone commenting, you should be thanking them. Yet, with countless shelters and rescues, I see these people- e-screaming about all the comments and WHY WHY WHY doesn’t SOMEONE get that baby?!
Well, maybe they realize they’re not in a position to do so. That’s responsible. Taking on a pet you cannot care for, is not. Sharing the word about a pet needing a home? IS.
You nasty people need to stop it. YOU ARE HURTING YOUR RESCUE GROUP’S EFFORTS.

I understand being heartbroken and angry- but you reflect poorly on the page you’re doing this crap on. Stop it.

2. Privately harassing people in order to force adoptions. I had no less than 23 cats and kittens shoved at me. Now, had I been allowing Sprog 2 to see those messages, I would have been holding a weeping mess of a boy. He knows the reality. He knows they die. As a mother, however, there was no way I was showing him those messages. People who should have been encouraging the altruism and animal loving of a boy- were attempting to make him feel bad for not taking in full litters. We don’t have the space or resources to do that. I would say this, I would get the nastiest messages back.

    I have actually been insulted for not already going full bore into animal rescue. Well, I can’t. I’m not going to be another well-intended idiot that ends up on the news and nothing more than a hoarder. I’m just not. And I’m not sorry.

The flip of that were the private messages I’d gotten from people who’d SEEN the interactions and now wanted nothing to do with those pages, who had in fact, hidden those photos- because of the nasty people.

Then, I saw another friend’s interactions on a rescue page. This was, again: not an actual rescue, but well meaning people who were snatching animals from pounds and putting them up for adoption.

It was an all out cat-fight, complete with insults and discussions that should have been private, but were not. BLOCK. Because you know what I see when I see that? I don’t see passion. I don’t see caring- I see a rescue group that is lax in organization and will likely make the adoption process harder than it has to be.

STOP IT.

I would also firmly advocate hosting your photos of the atrocities you see in rescue offline, and instead of posting the photos- post a link. Research has shown that those photos are QUICKLY hidden. Those who do know this goes on and do care may not- but those you’re trying to reach, are more likely to hit the “hide” button, which sinks your page’s relevance on Facebook. I mean, tanks it. Therefor, anything you post after that will not get nearly the exposure that it should. Yes, you’ll probably get loads of comments and shares- but they’re counter balanced in the negative by the blocks and that does impact your other shares. Most people do not realize that, but it’s true. Posting a news article is often a good way to go- because then people feel they have a choice to click and read, rather than having it in their face. While I might think YES people need to know this happens, and while I might think closing your eyes to that sort of thing is akin to “lalalala, can’t seeeee you”- the fact is, it hurts your page to post it. It honestly does. So, when you do this, opt for links, instead. I think it sucks, but it is one of those social media realities you shouldn’t ignore.

What people LOVE to see?

Happy endings. Adorable kittens and puppies. POSITIVE and uplifting stories from the front. Cohesive rescues, working together to get these animals into loving forever homes. Nobody wants to click on a cute photo of kittens and see a bunch of sanctimonious jerks screaming that those who are liking, sharing and commenting are heartless for not simply coming in to save them. Nobody wants to see your commentary underneath about how they will die- generally, the photo itself may list the animal as in urgent need and on death row: that’s enough.

I know that people who do this mean well, but when you do this- you do not understand how social media works. Those of us who DO work in rescue in some capacity full well understand the urges to do this: but you need to stop it. Because those of us who also work in social media understand what happens when people don’t want to comment, share, or even click your photos. Those photos no longer get shared as far, and as a result: those adorable animals you’re trying to save, aren’t seen by as many potential adopters. Also, point of fact- any time they have to spend babysitting the actions of grown men and women on their page is time taken away from the animals. Nobody who runs a page likes dealing with that, but in this case: time spent by someone making sure you’re not being a jerk to someone else- is time they COULD be spending on getting those animals homes.

Keep it positive and you will see much better results.

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